Another round of food stamp cuts in states

Wednesday, March 26, 2014
By Paul Martin

Jake Grovum
USAToday.com
March 26, 2014

A fresh round of food stamp cuts at the state level are underway, on top of federal food stamp reductions that hit millions of Americans twice since November. In some states, policymakers have imposed additional cuts that jeopardize benefits for hundreds of thousands.

The impact of the reductions is just beginning to take hold, or soon will.

“They’re getting cut off and seeking help,” said Debi Kreutzman of the Kansas Food Bank, which is dealing with changes that could affect 20,000 Kansans. “We’re starting to see that come into play now, and I’m afraid it’s only going to get worse.”

The state cuts target a relatively small portion of the food stamp population: low-income able-bodied adults, without children, 18 to 50 years old — estimated to be about 10% of the more than 47 million in the program. In some states, recipients are losing benefits because of reinstated work requirements as a condition of qualifying for food stamps.

These cuts come on top of an across-the-board 5% reduction of benefits to all food stamp recipients’ benefits last November. As part of the farm bill earlier this year, Congress also closed a loophole and cut benefits for 850,000 households, although many states affected are moving to block the cuts for now.

The federal food stamp program (formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) limits how long low-income childless, able-bodied adults can receive food stamps to three months in a three-year period, unless they are working or participating in a training or workfare program for at least 20 hours a week. Other food stamp recipients face less stringent work requirements, and there are exemptions for those with children or other caregivers.

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