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SNAP cuts – what’s the impact in Maine?

As of Nov. 1, 2013, all recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), otherwise known as food stamps, saw their benefits decrease.

SNAP benefits were increased in the stimulus bill passed after the Great Recession, in an effort to aid families struggling to recover from the economic crisis. Then, in 2010, Congress determined that this increase should expire after a certain period of time. So, as of Nov. 1, SNAP received a 5% across the board cut.

On average, a family of 4 enrolled in SNAP now has $36 less to spend on groceries each month. To some, $36 may not seem like a lot of money, but for families who struggle to stretch every dollar, this makes a huge difference in their monthly budget.

In total, Maine has 252,500 SNAP recipients. This cut means that taken together, Maine’s SNAP recipients will lose $2.38 million in benefits each month. This will have a significant impact on low-income families, but it will also negatively impact Maine’s economy. That’s $2.38 million per month that would have been spent purchasing groceries in Maine.

In sum, Maine will lose $28.5 million in SNAP benefits this year because of the ARRA cut. To put this another way – SNAP recipients will lose approximately 9.6 million meals that they would have paid for with SNAP dollars.

As Congress seriously considers cutting SNAP even further in the new Farm Bill, Good Shepherd Food Bank and our partner agencies across the state are wondering – who is going to fill the meal gap caused by these massive cuts? Charity alone will not be able to meet the need should benefits continue to decrease.