Local families see cuts to food benefits

Published 1:18 pm Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Crenshaw County families are among the Alabama families receiving food stamps that have seen a cut this month.

Cuts were announced at the beginning of the month to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and are a result of the end of the boost given as part of the Recovery Act of 2009, which was designed to help strengthen the economy during the recession.

SNAP benefits are funded fully through federal dollars through the Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service, and are used for purchasing food.

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Statewide more than 900,000 people or an estimated one in five have been impacted by the cuts.

Crenshaw County DHR director Kristi Maddox said in October the county had 1,306 households who received SNAP benefits.

“This includes a total number of 2,915 people,” she said. “The dollar amount issued in October 2013 to Crenshaw County residents was $390,658.”

Fiscal year 2013 data was not available, but Maddox said $4.67 million was given out in Crenshaw County for FY2012.

“That’s definitely a lot of money that helps our local food suppliers,” she said.

Many families do not receive the maximum benefit allotted, but for a famly of four receiving the maximum benefit, they have seen their benefits decrease from $668 to $632 a month and an individual recipient receiving the maximum would see a decrease from $200 to $189 per month.

Arise Citizens’ Policy Project executive director Kimble Forrister said the program “helped families keep food on the table as they seek to get themselves back on their feet. It also helped 144,000 Alabama households with elderly or disabled people weather the recession.”

In addition to helping feed hungry families, SNAP is one of the most effective ways to stimulate a struggling economy, Forrister said.

Studies show that every $1 increase in SNAP benefits in a distressed economy creates about $1.70 in economic activity. As the temporary SNAP increase ends, Alabama will lose $98 million in the next 11 months. Of that amount, $71 million would have gone to 423,000 children and their families.

The U.S. House recently voted for an additional $40 billion in SNAP cuts that would come on top of the cuts taking effect Friday.

* Stephanie Nelson contributed to this report.