SNAP Cuts Mean Millions Could Go Hungry

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Food Stamps Illinois
A Volunteer at St. Ignatius Food Pantry restocks items as individuals and families in need visit the facility Friday, Nov. 1, 2013, in Chicago. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

The New York Times has a heartbreaking story today on how cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — or food stamps — are affecting millions of low-income American families for whom $10 or $20 makes a big difference. The decrease marks the largest across-the-board cuts since Congress first passed the Food Stamps Act in 1964 as part of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty and affects 47 million people, or about one in seven Americans.

From the Times:

To poor families trying to stretch a couple hundred dollars into a month’s worth of groceries, all the talk about stimulus packages, farm subsidies and congressional politics means little. It is all about daily survival at the grocery store.

“We’ll be on our last $3 at the end of the month,” said Rafaela Rivera, 34, a home health aide who earns $10 an hour.

Ms. Rivera’s family of four saw their food stamps reduced by $36, to $420 a month. They pay rent and other expenses using her income and her husband’s disability check, and they supplement food stamps with bags of fresh vegetables, chicken and other groceries from a food pantry.

“It’s going to be hard,” she said. “Our last week is going to be tight tight.”

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan think tank that focuses, among other things, on policy solutions to poverty, finds that SNAP is particularly effective at keeping American children in needy families out of poverty. In 2012, the program lifted 2.2 million children, and 4.9 million Americans total, above the poverty line.

At Esquire’s Politics Blog, Charlie Pierce asks why President Obama and others in Washington are still unable to discuss poverty. He takes aim at politicians in both parties and the “courtier press,” who are completely “insulated from the consequences of their actions” on the American people.

I ask this in all seriousness — when was the last time the president gave a speech about poverty? Not a section in the State of the Union. Not a speech about the embattled middle class. Not about how we all do better when all of us are doing better. Not about increasing opportunity. A full-throated, unequivocal speech simply about poverty, and about poor people, and about how it is a moral disgrace in the richest nation on earth to have as many people as we do who are forced to choose between meat and shelter. Let him give one now. I’ll buy a ticket.

John Light is a writer and journalist sometimes based in New York. He writes a lot about climate policy, both inside and outside of the US. He was a former associate digital producer for Moyers & Company. His work has been supported by grants from The Nation Institute Investigative Fund and the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Awards, and has been included in ProPublica's #MuckReads collection. You can follow him on Twitter at @LightTweeting.
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  • Anonymous

    The great irony of the right’s successes in demonizing and sabotaging the never adequate social safety net these last decades, leaving aside momentarily the stunning moral implications of the “greatest country on God’s green earth in human history” abandoning tens of millions of its citizens, is that ultimately capitalism will self-destruct by eating or selling society’s seed corn, instead of planting it and nurturing it.

    The “Masters of the Universe” suddenly woke up one morning and found themselves running the most prosperous economy in human history, and look for adulation and thankfulness from a grateful citizenry for all of their benevolent wonderfulness.

    They conveniently and selfishly ignore the fact that human history’s first broadly prosperous middle class, combined with massive government investment and strong regulations on business, post Great Depression and post WW II, is what created it.

    Economists refer to the “great compression” from 1947 to 1973, when the gap between the rich and average workers narrowed and the masses had disposable income for a second car, vacation, and a college education for their kids, as the fuel that drove America’s mighty capitalist engine.

    So, now that America’s bones are almost picked clean via tax cuts, deregulation, and wholly owned politicians, and our decline virtually assured by born-on-third-base parasitic vulture capitalists, right wing authoritarians, and assorted progeny and sycophants of the aristocrats who opposed the American experiment from day one, all that remains is to properly assign blame for our impending doom where it truly belongs, on the excesses and laziness of the seed corn.

  • Norma

    Who proposed these cuts?? Who approved these cuts in Congress?

  • Anonymous

    Obama’s stimulus package included a boost in SNAP but the stimulus has ended. That means decreased food stamp money. By the way, a further decrease is expected in January with Dems signing on to a small reduction and Republicans holding out for a large one.

  • Team Jayne & Chris

    It’s very hard. If I want to get a turkey and stuff for Thanksgiving, I have to make some pretty measly choices right now. I bought a chicken which I’ll boil and split into 2 meals like chicken and noodles or chicken tacos. I’ll make sure the kids have something decent but I’ll probably skip meals or just have a piece of bread with some peanut butter on it. Mine were cut by $36 also..which is about 3-4 meals so the last week it’s really tough.

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    You are on it: will not have to pay anything for these people. They will literally throw their kids under the bus and be prepared for pets to be a common fare at bbqs.

  • Anonymous

    Get ready for it to get really ugly when people can no longer afford any dentistry and by 30 many will have several obviously missing and decaying teeth, no money for makeup, skincare, salons, nails, for new clothes, one pair of shoes and nothing but handmedowns, reopen the orphanages because families cannot have and sustain13-17 pregnancies on no income, elders will be confined to home and abused and finally killed to access their property and wealth, water may stop running and sewers not repaired in ‘select’ neighborhoods, child abuse will increas, prostitution will be the only means for many, games, sports, videos, movies, entertainment will only be for the wealthy, crime and gangs will be local, kikds will be abandoned…oh yea, it will not be pretty.

  • Anonymous

    The republican party has agressively sought these cuts and more cuts associated with the farm bill. Their demands that millionaire farmers receive more welfare is the driver behind these cut. Their policies are reprehensible and they are despicable. The best solution is the fire the GOP from the House & Senate. Democrats make mistakes but they are not the selfish me only mistakez of the GOP.

  • brigitta

    Never in Europe you see so many Homeless, Poor people with their noses and hands in garbidge cans ! Only in America … It’s striking ! It’s a shame !
    This is a full grown NEO FEODALISM !!! Obama about poverty ???!!!))))) President Obama NOT PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT…

  • gramps,

    Today a gallon of milk is say $3.50…That means, one of your EBT’ers goes to the store to buy that gallon of milk & Obama borrow’s $1.67 cents, to pay for it !

    The ‘D’s see no problem with that, like YOU, they’re ‘uninformed mutants’ & morons….”The spending MUST STOP” !

    How much or more ‘largesse’ do you ‘morons’ want ?? !

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for the brainless ad hominem smears, proving you know even less of comity than macroeconomics and history.

  • gramps,

    You want to talk History, chew on this for a while….

    Here’s some $$ ‘facts’ as to how the World & the US got to where it is today…..A ‘Cliff Note/Readers Digest’ version….:

    After WW II, the US, via the Marshall Plan, financed & rebuilt Europe….In doing so America placed a protective umbrella, through NATO, over those countries…

    Consequently, Europe ‘didn’t have to pay for standing armies to protect themselves….. They were able to direct those defense funds to things like ‘socialized medicine’, free college tuition, high speed rail, 4-6 weeks vacation in certain industries & a ‘Litany’ of other hand outs…..Our ‘Parents & Grand-Parents’ picked up the tab !

    Creating a ‘gimmiecrat, entitled’ mindset in Europe, for many generations…(which has become inbred)

    Meanwhile back home, since the mid-sixties & the advent of Lyndon’s ‘Great Society’, which was ‘unfunded’.
    The US has had to raise it’s debt limit 70+ times to pay for it.

    Creating another ‘gimmiecrat, entitled’ mindset

    It’s over, the $$’s ALL GONE, the people of the world must ‘wake-up’ & deal with it!…we’re, the US, is ‘guilty’ of ‘sewing’ the seeds of Government Dependency through-out the Western world !…

    It was all on the cuff, financed, a tragic unintended consequence by the USA’s borrowing of $$!

    ‘I find it interesting that China & India are now owning & kicking our ‘rear end’s….51 babies are born every minute in India, probably a lot more in China. Do you think they’ll build ‘welfare states’ or build their economy’s?

    Could their success be because we ‘didn’t’ help them?…’YUP’…They helped themselves!…
    & so it goes.

    For those that want to call that ‘racism’, good luck to ya.


    Our ‘once Great & now failing Society’ was & is being partially funded by ‘CHINA’ & staffed by INDIA……&……by the way, a month or so ago in Detroit, a 45 year old father of ’24 KID’s’ was found dead….Any ?’s

  • Anonymous

    My Uncle
    Charlie recently got an awesome twelve month old Nissan Armada SUV by working
    off of a macbook air. next page w­w­w.B­I­G­29.c­o­m

  • Anonymous

    The cuts of which you refer were implemented by Barack Obama who diverted funds to Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” Program. That point was conveniently omitted from the article but google it and see for yourself.

  • Anonymous

    How is it that the author of this article omitted the cuts of which you refer were implemented by Barack Obama who diverted funds to Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” Program. Google it.