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.

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.

Chris covers health care for GOVERNING. An Ohio native with an interest in education, he set out for New Orleans with Teach For America after finishing a degree at Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. He later covered government and politics at the Savannah Morning News and its South Carolina paper. He most recently covered North Carolina’s 2013 legislative session for the Associated Press.