State-by-State Figures Highlight the Impacts Across the Country
The 2009 Recovery Act’s temporary boost in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits ends on November 1, 2013, which will mean a benefit cut for each of the nearly 48 million SNAP recipients — 87 percent of whom live in households with children, seniors, or people with disabilities. House and Senate members who are now beginning to negotiate a final Farm Bill should keep this benefit cut in mind as they consider, in reauthorizing the SNAP program, whether to make even deeper cuts.
The November 1 benefit cut will be substantial. A household of three, such as a mother with two children, will lose $29 a month — a total of $319 for November 2013 through September 2014, the remaining 11 months of fiscal year 2014. (See Figure 1.) The cut is equivalent to about 16 meals a month for a family of three based on the cost of the U.S. Agriculture Department’s “Thrifty Food Plan.” Without the Recovery Act’s boost, SNAP benefits in fiscal year 2014 will average less than $1.40 per person per meal. Nationally, the cut totals about $5 billion in 2014 and a total of $11 billion over the fiscal year 2014 to 2016 period. (See Table 1.)
The SNAP benefit cut will make it even harder for families to put food on the table. More than 80 percent of SNAP households have monthly income below the federal poverty line ($19,500 a year for a family of three), and more than 40 percent live in deep poverty, with income below half of the poverty line. The Recovery Act’s temporary benefit increase boosted the ability of households to provide adequate food for their families, known as “food security,” research shows.
The benefit cut will affect all households that receive SNAP, the majority of which include children, seniors, or people with disabilities. Nationally, more than 21 million children — that is, more than 1 in 4 of all children — live in a household that receives SNAP. At least a quarter of children receive SNAP benefits in more than 30 states and the District of Columbia; in some states, this figure is more than 40 percent. November’s SNAP cut for households with children will total $3.5 billion in the remaining 11 months of fiscal year 2014. Similarly, more than 9 million seniors and people with disabilities receive SNAP. Their households will experience a $1.2 billion benefit cut over the same period. Table 2, below, shows the number of children and senior citizens or people with disabilities in each state who live in such households.
In addition, the November benefit cut will reduce, by millions of dollars in every state, the flow of money that not only would help families afford to eat, but also would inject money into the economy. Studies show that in a distressed economy, every dollar of SNAP benefits creates at least about $1.70 in economic activity, as SNAP recipients spend their benefits on food quickly. For example, California and Texas will each lose over $400 million in SNAP benefits that would have helped their residents eat in 2014; the potential economic impact is even greater.
The depth and breadth of the SNAP cuts that take effect in November are unprecedented. Past cuts have affected specific states or groups, but they have not affected all participants nor been as large as these cuts.
They are taking effect the same week that the House and Senate Agriculture Committees begin their conference committee negotiations on the Farm Bill, which includes a reauthorization of and proposed cuts to SNAP. The House version of the bill would cut SNAP by nearly $40 billion over the next 10 years, denying benefits to about 3.8 million people in 2014 and an average of 3 million people each year over the coming decade.