As Ted first pointed out back in August, the 2009 Recovery Act’s temporary boost in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits ends on November 1, 2013, which will mean a benefit cut for each of the nearly 48 million SNAP recipients in the country, including 350,000 here in West Virginia.
Without the Recovery Act’s boost, SNAP benefits will average less than $1.40 per meal. The cut will equal about $29 per month for a family of three, or the equivalent to about 16 meals a month based on the cost of the U.S. Agriculture Department’s “Thrifty Food Plan.”
The benefit cut will affect all households that receive SNAP, the majority of which include children, seniors, or people with disabilities. About 40 percent of West Virginia’s 350,000 SNAP recipients are children, and 28 percent are either elderly or disabled. Overall, 141,000 children and 98,000 elderly or disabled persons in West Virginia will have their benefits cut.
In addition to increasing hardship by making it more difficult for families receiving SNAP benefits to put food on the table, the cuts to SNAP will drain $36 million out of West Virginia’s economy. And, since SNAP benefits are spent quickly by their recipients on food, the impact will have a ripple effect. Research has shown that every $1.00 spent on SNAP can create $1.70 in economic activity, in an depressed economy.
While this cut to SNAP is taking place, the House and Senate Agriculture Committees are beginning their conference committee negotiations on the Farm Bill, which includes a reauthorization of, and proposed cuts to, SNAP. The House version of the bill would cut SNAP by nearly $40 billion over the next 10 years, denying benefits to about 3.8 million people in 2014 and an average of three million people each year over the coming decade, which would create even more hardship for West Virginian families.