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$5 billion in cuts to SNAP benefits take effect

6:27 AM, Nov 1, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It is now harder for millions of Americans to put food on their table.

The federal stimulus package in 2009 provided more money for food stamps through the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP.

But President Obama announced the extra funding would expire this fall and instead would help fight childhood obesity.

"Some of the funding comes from rolling back temporary increase in food stamp benefits, or SNAP as it's now called, starting in the fall of 2013," he said.

That transition kicked in overnight on Friday, November 1 when $5 billion in SNAP benefits were taken away from 47 million Americans.
Closer to home, roughly 200,000 people in Duval County will be losing their food stamp benefits.

Across all of Florida, more than 3.5 million people rely on SNAP benefits to provide for their families.

In Georgia, nearly 2 million rely on the program.

For a family of three, the impact is expected to be a loss of $29 a month.

Nicole Butler is a Jacksonville mom who's trying to provide for her daughter. They are losing $20 a month.

Butler said while that might not sound like a lot to most people, it is devastating to her.

"It's going to affect us real bad because you go to the grocery store; the food is not cheap no more. The meat is expensive. The canned goods are too," she said.

On average, it's expected the new SNAP benefits will boil down to $1.47 per person per meal.

That has food banks like Second Harvest North Florida bracing for a greater need.

It said it is not sure if the need will come immediately or over a longer period of time.

Already, Second Harvest serves more than 400 non-profit groups over a 17 county area.

It handed out more than 24 million pounds of food last year, but expects to hand out 40 million by 2015.

Lawmakers in Washington are not looking to help the situation, either.

NBC reports House Republicans want to cut an additional $40 billion in SNAP benefits while Senate Democrats propose an extra $4.5 billion in cuts.

President Obama has said he's willing to negotiate with Congress on funding.

First Coast News

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