ALBUQUERQUE—Around 442,000 people in New Mexico will see a cut in their food assistance benefits this fall, when a temporary boost to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) is set to expire.
This is according to new data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) discussed in a new report from the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Nearly half of all New Mexico children—42 percent or more than 215,000 children—benefit from SNAP. All of them will be impacted by this cut. This news comes on the heels of a recent report by Feeding America showing that New Mexico already has the highest rate of child hunger in the nation.
More than 47 million Americans—including 22 million children—will see their food assistance reduced, when a modest boost in benefits to SNAP recipients that policymakers included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) expires October 31. For a family of three, that will mean a reduction of $29 a month—$319 for the remaining 11 months of the fiscal year. This is a serious loss for families whose benefits, after this cut, will average less than $1.40 per person per meal.
“The small increase in SNAP benefits that was included in the federal stimulus bill has helped thousands of struggling families in New Mexicostay afloat during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression,” said Veronica C. García, Ed.D., executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children. “This modest assistance is providing a lifeline to those parents who are struggling to find work, or are working at jobs that do not pay them enough to put food on the table.”
In addition to helping to feed hungry families, SNAP is one of the fastest, most effective ways to stimulate a struggling economy. Every $1 increase in SNAP benefits generates about $1.70 in economic activity.
The across-the-board cuts scheduled for November will reduce the program by $5 billion in fiscal year 2014 alone. New Mexico will lose $47 million in federal aid. Cuts of that magnitude will have a significant impact on low-income families. “Given the fact that SNAP benefits are already inadequate for many families, these cuts will be particularly painful,” García said.
On top of these across-the-board cuts to the program, the U.S. House of Representatives tried unsuccessfully to cut $20 billion from SNAP when reauthorizing the Farm Bill.
Such a cut would have eliminated food assistance for nearly two million people. A group of House Republicans is now advancing a bill that would cut SNAP benefits by $40 billion. This could leave many families and their children without assistance to put food on the table when they need it most.
“SNAP has been a powerful tool in helping to keep families out of poverty,” García said. “The majority of SNAP recipients who are able to work, do. And for those who can’t or are temporarily unable to find a job, SNAP has helped to give them a leg up. Now is not the time to further reduce this already modest assistance to these struggling families.”
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ full report, SNAP Benefits Will Be Cut for All Participants in November 2013, can be found at: http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3899.