On November 1st, the food stamps program (SNAP) will face cuts as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act benefits expire. The nation's food banks, already stretched thin because of the poor economy, are expecting to see an increase in demand as a result.
Congress is also pursuing further cuts to the program. Around 49 million Americans suffer from hunger or "food insecurity." However, the House of Representatives approved a plan last month to cut nearly $ 40 billion dollars worth of food stamps. Free school meals for 210,000 children will also be eliminated.
Feeding America's CEO Bob Aiken says, "These cuts to SNAP combined with the scheduled American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) cuts to the program—scheduled to go into effect on Nov. 1, 2013—will result in the loss of about 3.4 billion meals provided to low-income Americans in 2014. That is more meals that the entire Feeding America Network of 200 food banks distributed through 61,000 food pantries and soup kitchens in 2013."
According to Feeding America, "76% of SNAP households included a child, an elderly person, or a disabled person." Around "90% of SNAP benefits are redeemed by the third week of the month," meaning that families often need extra support from food banks. With cuts to food stamps this need will increase. Food banks will struggle to meet this need.
Food stamp cuts will also harm small businesses. The U.S. Dept of Agriculture (USDA) explains that food stamps "create business when they are redeemed at your local food retailer." USDA adds, "These benefits ripple throughout the economies of the community, State, and Nation."
The impact of food stamp cuts, in a time of economic downturn, will have its own negative ripple effect. Congress is being urged to take action against hunger in America and protect food assistance programs.