Countless U.S. families will be devastated with food stamp cuts
Benefits will be trimmed by $5 billion starting today, leaving many families in the lurch
For millions of American families, their way of life will be disrupted, leaving them to scramble for alternative methods to put food on the table. Food stamp benefits will be trimmed by $5 billion starting today, leaving many homes short.
Some 47.6 million people, or nearly 15 percent of the population receive food stamps, according to September federal data. That compares to 26.3 million, or 8.7 percent of the population, in 2007. The average benefit per person is $133.19 a month.
Food stamp-dependent households strain under very tight budgets as it is. For 54-year-old Hugh Sewell, on food stamps for two years, he receives the maximum allowed for his family of three: $526 a month. Those benefits will likely be cut by $29 to $497, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Sewell finds himself in a precariously unique situation. He landed a job as an audio technician last month, which paid $12 an hour, far less than the $25 he used to make before he was laid off. He asked his current employer to lower his wages to $9 an hour instead. Why?
Sewell found out that his $12 an hour was just enough to cause a reduction in his government benefits, and could cost him and his family its Medicaid coverage for health care. His income from the $12 an hour job would not be enough to pay his bills, including the $900 a month he has to pay for health insurance for his family.
The first time his family got food stamps after he lost his job in 2010, they went through the allotment halfway through the month. The Sewells began making detailed budgets, meal plans and shopping lists.
"We buy a lot of beans, rice and potatoes," Sewell says. "Towards the end of the month, you're eating all the box stuff, and a lot more pasta with sauce."
Sewell now hopes to find a job that pays enough to allow his family to get off government assistance.
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