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'Catastrophic': Congressional Apathy to Push Millions of Nation's Poor into Deeper Hunger

Funding extension for SNAP allowed to expire as lawmakers weigh further cuts to the program for families in need

- Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

U.S. lawmakers will allow the essential food aid program Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to lose $5 billion in funding when a stimulus boost ends on Friday.

(Getty Images) The massive blow to the program means that the roughly 47 million people with food stamp assistance—that's one in every seven Americans, 49 percent of whom are children—will have their monthly assistance gouged.

As Colorlines reports, "The total cuts will amount to about a five percent reduction for families who already struggle to make ends meet, and some states already began making cuts."

"Instead of receiving an average of a buck-fifty for a meal, individuals in need of food assistance will get about $1.40," explains Greg Kaufmann, poverty correspondent for The Nation. "For families of three, the cut means they will receive $29 less in food stamps every month."

The Nov. 1 benefit cuts "will be close to catastrophic for many people," said Ross Fraser, spokesman for Feeding America. According to the group's recent analysis, the SNAP cuts will result in a loss of roughly 2 billion meals for poor families over the course of 2014.

A lack of support for the SNAP program in Congress was obvious this week as lawmakers resumed talks on Wednesday over a Farm Bill that will inevitably include even deeper cuts to the program. The House has already passed a bill that would cut food stamps by $39 billion over the next 10 years, and the Senate’s farm bill is slated to cut program by $4.5 billion in the same time period.

Either way, families in need who are already losing big this week are set to lose more.

"People are living at the margins," said Ellen Vollinger, legal director and SNAP advocate at the Food Research and Action Center. "It's not an abstract metric for people. It's actual dollars to keep food in the refrigerator."

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