Back in 2009, federal stimulus dollars increased funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – known as SNAP. But now, that stimulus has run out. For Arizona, it amounts to a cut of about 109 million dollars over the next year or so. Bigger states like Texas will lose more than 400 million dollars.
“The benefit lost is going to average about 36 dollars for a household of four. While that may not seem significant to a lot of people, it’s going to be very significant to folks who are on a shoestring budget and trying to make things work,” says Brian Simpson, spokesman for the Association of Arizona Food Banks.
Simpson’s group is getting ahead of the problem by letting people know a change is coming. Salvation Army’s John Brackenbury says he thinks most people don’t know they’re about to get a cut in their monthly benefits.
Brackenbury says even during October’s government shutdown the Salvation Army in Phoenix saw an extra dozen families a day looking for help because they weren’t getting paid. And more cuts are likely to come. This week Congress is discussing the Farm Bill. Both the House and the Senate are proposing billions of dollars in additional cuts to SNAP over the next decade.
“As these programs are implemented or decreased, I think it will have a greater effect on people then they are anticipating,” says Brackenbury.
The stimulus money runs out Friday.