It’s been more than a month since food stamp recipients saw their benefits reduced.
About 220,000 people in Southern Arizona were affected, with a reduction of $36 dollars a month for a family of four receiving the maximum benefit under the federal Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program, better know as food stamps.
SNAP saw an increase of funds under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009, but that boost expired on Nov. 1. This means the program will see $11 billion in reductions between fiscal year 2014-2016.
Officials from the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona are concerned about further changes to the program as Congress considers more cuts to SNAP as part of the Farm Bill.
The Senate wants to cut $4 billion over 10 years while the House wants to cut $40 billion.
To put it in perspective, the reductions that occurred in November account for about 1.9 billion meals per year across the country," said Marco Liu, the food bank's advocacy and outreach director. "And, that’s about half of what the entire food bank network under Feeding America provides in terms of emergency food."
Liu and his team help people sign up for SNAP. He said the food bank helped enroll more than 1,400 families in the program last year.
Liu said food bank SNAP clients are worried about having to choose between putting food on the table or paying their bills.