Health & Human Services

Feds Pull Back Food Stamp Funding

The federal government decided during the recession to increase food stamp benefits to help low-income people. Starting Nov. 1, benefits return to their pre-recession level.
by | November 1, 2013
A farmers market in Roseville, Calif., that accepts electronic Benefit Transfer cards.
Regardless of the farm bill, all food stamp recipients will see their benefits trimmed in November when a temporary provision in the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act that boosted benefits expires. AP/Rich Pedroncelli

A recession-era ramp up in food stamp benefits is coming to a close today, leaving some 47 million Americans who depend on the program with smaller monthly budgets.

Congress boosted the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which gives food vouchers to low-income people, by 13.6 percent as part of the stimulus act in 2009 to help recipients weather the recession. The phase-down, scheduled to begin Nov. 1, is estimated to cost a family of four $36 a month, according to the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Cuts for this fiscal year total $5 billion.

Those who oppose letting the benefits increase lapse note that demand remains record-high despite signs of economic recovery. Opponents note that spending on the program has jumped from $20 billion a decade ago to $78 billion last year.

The program remains the subject of future cuts as Congress takes another shot at passing a farm bill. The program is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The impact among the states will vary depending on levels of poverty. See this Governing piece for a complete state-by-state breakdown.

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