The record number of Americans relying on federal aid to put food on the table will have to make do with less starting today, as a recession-era boost to food stamps officially expires.
Benefits are being reduced by about 5% beginning Nov. 1 for all of the nearly 47.7 million Americans on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. A family of four will receive $36 less each month because of the reduction, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A household of eight would see benefits reduced $65 a month. The average monthly benefit per household for all 50 states and the District of Columbia last year was $278.
But despite an improved economy, demand for assistance remains at record levels — almost three times what it was in 2000. The cost of the program has ballooned as well. A decade ago, federal spending on food stamps topped $20 billion annually. In the last fiscal year, the U.S. spent a record $78.4 billion. In Washington and in many states, Republicans have backed efforts to curb spending, cut benefits and trim enrollment in SNAP.