Roughly 131,000 Montanans to See Drop in Food Stamp Benefits

By Beacon Staff

Food stamp benefits will be cut to roughly 47 million Americans, including 131,000 residents in Montana, starting today as a temporary boost to the federal program expires without a new deal from Congress.

Under the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program, or SNAP, a household of three in Montana will lose roughly $29 in benefits each month. In total, the reduction will result in about $13 million less going to in-state recipients over the next 11 months, according to the Montana Budget and Policy Center.

SNAP, which is administered by the Department of Agriculture, benefits an estimated one in seven Americans. It is authorized in a five-year farm bill, which has expired and yet to be renewed by Congress.

SNAP received an increase in 2009 that was part of the federal stimulus efforts, but the boost expired today.

On top of today’s reductions, Congress recently passed legislation cutting $40 billion from SNAP, potentially eliminating assistance for at least 12,000 people in Montana, according to the Montana Budget and Policy Center.

The legislation would provide strong financial incentives for states to reduce their caseloads.

This proposal, coupled with today’s cuts, unfairly targets millions of the most vulnerable Americans and places a massive burden on community resources, according to the Montana Budget and Policy Center.

“Because SNAP benefits increase farm production, create agricultural jobs, and help give business to small grocery stores and local farmers’ markets, this cut will be felt in households and small businesses across the state said Jackie Semmens, policy analyst at the public policy institute. “The cut will total a loss of $13 million to Montana over the next 11 months.”

Vulnerable families will be hit hardest by the cuts and community resources like food banks are expected to feel the burden in the coming months.

“Food banks across the nation continue to be stretched to the limit as they struggle to keep up with unprecedented demand in a weak economy,” said Kate Devino, chief policy officer of the Montana Food Bank Network.

“Our ability to meet this need became even harder today, and additional cuts to SNAP would further increase hunger and hardship for many Montanans. Montana’s emergency food providers simply cannot compensate for cuts to SNAP at a time when resources are already stretched so thin. Expecting private organizations to fill the gap is unrealistic, and devastating for the families and individuals who will bear the brunt of the cuts.”

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.