Majority Leader Eric Cantor is pushing a Republican plan to cut $40 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known as food stamps, over the next ten years. The proposed cuts would be on top of a benefit reduction for all SNAP households that will go into effect in November. The plan is expected to go to the House floor in the next few days.
In a detailed report published on Friday, The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says this cut could push up to six million Americans out of the program, "primarily by eliminating states' ability to secure waivers for high-unemployment areas from SNAP's austere rule that limits benefits for jobless adults without children to just three months out of every three years." This comes at a time when 14.5% of US households already have trouble putting meals on the table, and when 22% or more children live in food insecure households. That number is even higher in areas like the District of Columbia, where 30% of children do not have consistent access to food.
The number of SNAP recipients increased in June 2013 to over 47 million participants, according to the Food Research and Action Center. One in seven people living in the US received SNAP benefits. The typical family that qualifies for SNAP is a working mother with two young children who has monthly earnings slightly above SNAP's monthly gross income limit, but limited disposable income for food due to necessary costs like rent and childcare. For these families and others with even lower incomes, "SNAP benefits stand between them and destitution," according to The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The cuts could also affect 20% of the veterans receiving SNAP assistance, and it could prevent 210,000 children from qualifying for free school meals.
Media Resources: The Atlantic 9/10/2013; Center on Budget and Policy Priorities 9/6/2013; Children's Health Watch; Feeding America Child Hunger Facts; Food Research and Action Center 6/2013