By Mona Shand
At the height of the recession, Congress authorized a small increase to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps), but that extra funding runs out November 1, leaving many Michigan residents struggling even harder to put food on the table. Beginning next week, a family of four receiving SNAP benefits will see a loss of about $36 per month.
Gilda Jacobs, CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy, declared that this is the wrong time to make any cuts to such a vital anti-hunger program, which serves Michigan’s most vulnerable.
“It goes to seniors, it goes to veterans, it goes to children, it goes to working families—many people who have no other way to get nutrition and healthy foods,” Jacobs said.
The U.S. House has passed a Farm Bill, including even deeper cuts to the SNAP program, which would eliminate 200,000 low-income men and women from food assistance in Michigan. A bipartisan version that passed in the Senate also makes a cut, but it’s quite small compared to the reduction of $40 billion over 10 years in the House bill.
According to Jacobs, the effects of cuts to the SNAP program go far beyond the dinner table in a state like Michigan, which is still struggling to pull itself out of the recession. “These dollars also help our local economies,” she said. “This money is spent directly in people’s neighborhoods. They go into small businesses. So, there’s really a ripple effect.”
Today an estimated 13 percent of Michigan households meet the definition of “food insecure,” meaning they do not consistently have enough food. That’s up from 9 percent just a decade ago.