SNAP Benefits Scheduled to Be Cut Next November

December 18, 2012 at 2:21 pm

As policymakers deliberate over the “fiscal cliff” and calls are coming from some quarters for major cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called food stamps), they should take this into account:  SNAP benefits are already scheduled to fall next November 1, when the 2009 Recovery Act’s temporary benefits boost ends.  Any further cuts would come on top of these significant reductions and would cause further hardship.

Benefits will decline for every SNAP household.  For families of three, the cut likely will be $25 to $30 a month — $300 to $360 a year.

That’s a serious loss, especially in light of the very low size of basic SNAP benefits.  Without the Recovery Act’s boost, SNAP benefits average only about $1.30 per person per meal.  Nutrition experts have long held that these levels are inadequate to meet families’ basic food needs.

The Recovery Act boosted SNAP benefits beginning in April 2009, which helped to spur economic activity and assist low-income households during the Great Recession.  The Recovery Act called for benefits to remain at their new, higher level until the program’s regular annual inflation adjustments overtook it.  In 2010, however, Congress passed legislation ending the increase abruptly on November 1, 2013.

The exact amount of the cut that households will face in November won’t be clear until July, when the Agriculture Department (USDA) will calculate SNAP benefit levels for fiscal year 2014 based on June food costs.  But, the cut apparently will be roughly $8 to $10 per person per month, based on the Congressional Budget Office’s current food-inflation forecast.

These cuts will likely cause hardship for some SNAP participants, who include 22 million children (10 million of whom live in “deep poverty,” with family incomes below half of the poverty line) and 9 million people who are elderly or have a serious disability.

USDA research has found that the Recovery Act’s benefit boost cut the number of households in which one or more persons had to skip meals or otherwise eat less because they lacked money — what USDA calls “very low food security” — by about 500,000 households in 2009.

More recent research finds that boosting SNAP benefits during the summer for households with school-aged children who don’t have access to USDA’s summer food program cut very low food security among these households by nearly 20 percent.

Thus, we can reasonably assume that the end of the SNAP benefit increase in November 2013 will significantly raise the number of poor households that have difficulty affording adequate food.

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More About Stacy Dean

Stacy Dean

As Vice President for Food Assistance Policy, Dean works extensively with program administrators, policymakers, and non-profit organizations to improve the food stamp program and provide eligible low-income families easier access to its benefits.

Full bio | Blog Archive | Research archive at

5 Comments Add Yours ↓

Comments are listed in reverse chronological order.

  1. Gloria W #

    There were 4 others who commented here, and with me, we have a force of 5. Contact your Representatives, and Senators and local radio talk shows and write letters of opinion to your local newspapers.

    I am saying that because I agree with the article and the comments- it is not time to take away from the poor.

    However, there are issues I have with the current ‘SNAP’ program. It is not beneficial to allow soda and snacks and cookies and energy drinks and such items that are not a part of a solid nutritious food triangle. There needs to be common sense restrictions. I say this for a few reasons-

    The allotment per person is minimal enough that it should be going for healthy choices. Those that are also struggling, and working where they can to pay the taxes to fund ‘SNAP’ are pretty resentful when they see a grocery cart filled with soda and lobster or crab. It does little to aid in public support of SNAP, which is really a beneficial program.

    Reduce soda and junk foods allowed and put the extra money into INCREASING the amount per person.

  2. KathyAnne #

    According to Wynton Hall of Breitbart News, the number of individuals on food stamps now exceeds the combined populations of 25 states: Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

    According to the USDA, 47.7 million Americans receive food stamps.

    Thank you for your article, Ms Dean. A shocking state that our country is in.

  3. Richard D. #

    How come nobody reveals just how much in food stamps IS distributed per person or family? Per person, it’s $30 — per MONTH. Each kid gets $30 a month for food. And that’s the face of food insecurity right there.

    With reductions, per person will be less than $20 per month.

  4. rosemerry #

    How can the US leaders be so cruel? Jobs are not available, people are desperate, the rich get richer and pay little tax, corporations are allowed to do whatever is profitable, yet the few things which help needy people are reduced or cut.

  5. Lese Majeste #

    Death by a thousand cuts?

    While Wall Street “Too Big to Fail” banks hand out Xmas bonuses and the Department of WAR prepares for more invasions, in Syria and Mali, the people in the USA needing REAL help get chucked overboard.

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