Food stamp benefits cut for more than 30 million low-income Americans
San José, CA – On Wednesday, March 1, food stamp benefits were cut for more than 30 million low-income Americans. The average loss will be about one-third of the monthly benefits. Hardest hit would be many seniors getting food stamps, who would lose more than 90% of their monthly benefit.
The cuts in food stamps benefits are part of the larger package of cuts to programs that were started during the COVID pandemic in 2020. Those programs – including expanded unemployment benefits to include the self-employed and gig workers, expanding those who qualify for Medicaid (health insurance for low income individuals and households), and expanded child tax credits – have all be cut or will be in the months ahead.
Total spending on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, the formal name for food stamps, will fall by more than $15 billion this fiscal year, which runs from October 2022 to September 2023. At the same time, military spending, including military aid to Ukraine, will rise by $120 billion, or eight times as much, this fiscal year.
Food costs are up by more than 10% as compared to a year ago, straining working people’s budgets. Most economists expect a recession this year, which would slash the incomes of working people. About 40 million people in the United States are what the federal Government calls “food insecure,” and these cuts will just make the problem worse, especially for children and seniors.
While private charities cannot make up for cuts in SNAP food stamp benefits, this cut comes at a time where private charities are also under stress. The Second Harvest Food Bank that serves San José and distributes free food in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties saw the number of people it served double in 2020 with the pandemic. But even though the pandemic illnesses and unemployment have both come down, the rising cost of rent, gasoline, food, and well, just about everything, has made it harder to keep food on the table. The local food bank is still serving 80% more than in 2019 before the pandemic and will be challenged to help the growing number of people in need.
The United States is the world’s largest exporter of food. The U.S. exports more than twice as much food as the next two largest food exporting countries combined. Yet we cannot manage to feed our own people, while spending more and more on the military and war.