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Some Food Assistance Funds Will Be Cut Starting Nov. 1

by Doug Hardy | Oct 25, 2013 12:30pm
(4) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Congress, Nonprofits, White House

CTNJ file photo

Cafeteria line at John Clark School in Hartford. Officials say school nutrition programs are gaining some funds at the expense of SNAP.

Lucy Nolan, executive director of the Hartford-based nonprofit End Hunger Connecticut!, says the roughly 403,000 state residents who use the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will see less money on their EBT cards starting Nov. 1.

The cut comes out to about $10 per person per month, or about 5.5 percent across the board for households of one, two, three, or four people. Nolan said Thursday that the funding cut is not related to sequestration, which is the across-the-board federal spending cut that Congress put in place in 2011 if it couldn’t agree to a budget deal. Rather, she said some of the money from the American Recovery Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 is being moved over to cover the cost of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was passed in 2010.

Nolan said that the ARRA was originally passed in 2009 shortly after President Obama’s election and following the economic downturn in 2008. The ARRA included a 13 percent increase in funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and lengthened eligibility for unemployment benefits, among other things.

“If you look at our SNAP numbers, our food insecurity numbers went down in April after Obama’s election,” Nolan said. The added benefit came out to $24 a month for a one-person household, $44 for two, $63 for three, and $80 for four.

That increase in SNAP funding originally was scheduled to sunset in October 2014. However, the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act was passed in 2010 and was designed to add 6 cents more per meal to federally funded healthy meal programs in schools. That funding, Nolan said, came out of the ARRA and hastened the sunset of the 13-percent increase in SNAP funding to the end of October 2013. The money will then help provide healthy school breakfasts for children who qualify based on household income.

Nolan said the SNAP program has been proven to be a boon to local economies, with 91 percent of the benefits spent within the first week they are received. She also cited a Moody’s report that shows every SNAP dollar distributed creates another $1.78 within a given community.

“The money goes right into the communities that need it the most,” Nolan said, adding that although the cut won’t negatively impact school nutrition programs, it will mean a little more difficulty putting food on the dinner table at home.

“The families that are hungry are going to be hungrier,” Nolan said. “But the kids will be eating healthy at school.”

Specifically, SNAP’s per-month cut will be $11 for households of one, $20 for two, $29 for three, and $36 for four (see chart).

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On Thursday, Nolan took part in a visit to JFK Elementary School in Windsor with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. Nearly 100 percent of JFK’s students take part in the school breakfast program.

Nolan said the in-classroom breakfast concept works well in lower income schools.

“That’s what we saw [Thursday],” Nolan said. “Kids got breakfast and brought it to class. They were reading while they were eating.”

In terms of the sequester and the government shutdown and the potential for spending cuts in nutrition programs, Nolan said that “up until a week ago, we had no idea whether there would even be SNAP benefits in November.” She said that everything except child nutrition is at risk because of the sequester.

The federal government provided about $697 million for SNAP in 2012 to feed an average of 403,466 individuals per month. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the state faces a $44 million cut in federal funding for SNAP.

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(4) Comments

posted by: lkulmann | October 26, 2013  12:17am

wow ... I only get $161 a month for my son and me. Someone has their hand in my cookie jar. One of the DSS caseworkers are at it again. I’m going to label my return envelopes “WELFARE FRAUD IS A CRIME” in red ink…and send it to them!

posted by: Just another CT resident | October 26, 2013  7:29pm

Maybe if people who are not eligible for food stamps, (like our some of our state employees who fraudulently applied and received food stamps), didn’t get them there would be enough money for the people who really need this type of assistance. Those employees and cheats like them, are the people who are literally taking food out of the mouths of children!  Next time you see him, maybe you should ask Gov Malloy why only 1 of the state employees caught for fraudulently applying for food stamps was fired.

posted by: Meg H | October 30, 2013  2:22pm

The Medicare fraud rate hovers between 8 and 10 percent, but SNAP has the lowest fraud rate at less than 1%. It is the most effective and least fraudulent government program.
Somehow though nobody is ever pointing fingers at our nation’s elderly for being fraudulent cheaters - it is always the poor (many of whom are elderly poor). Why is this?

posted by: Just another CT resident | November 3, 2013  1:23pm

Sorry but per the Feeding America website “SNAP error rates declined by 57% since FY2000, from 8.91% in FY2000 to a record low of 3.80% in FY2011. The accuracy rate of 96.2% (FY2011) is an all-time program high and is considerably higher than other major benefit programs, for example Medicare….”
So let me reiterate the point that if our government eliminated the fraud (which I suspect is higher than the current 3.8%) this “supplemental nutrition assistance program” would not be experiencing a “.... 5.5% across the board…” decline and there would be more than enough money left over to increase the payments to those who truly need it.