Friday, November 01, 2013

US ends food stamp benefits as Congress debates more cuts

Jaden Painegua (2) watches as his mother at the West Side Campaign Against Hunger food pantry as his mother shops for food 24 July 2013

One in seven Americans relies on food aid, as lawmakers debate the future of the program

US food aid benefits are being cut from Friday as an extension of the government program expires, while legislators fight over further cuts. Benefits to the supplemental nutrition assistance program (Snap) will be lowered by $36 a month for a family of four, officials say.

Some 47 million low income Americans will be affected by the cuts. Food aid in the US has grown to $80bn a year due to higher unemployment and rising food costs. About one in seven Americans relies on Snap, also known as food stamps.

The benefits were originally expanded during the recent economic recession to stimulate the economy and help the poorest Americans.  Republicans in Congress are seeking further reductions to the program and say it should be better targeted at the most needy.

Retailers and grocers around the US are concerned about the possible negative impact the reduction will have on consumer spending.

They [Republicans] may have gone too far this time. The people, living at the poverty line and below ( including their children) are already going hungry and Congress is introducing legislation to reduce their access to food. I guess if they all starved to death, they would cease to be a problem to Congress.

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