More than 47 million Americans who receive food stamps, including 1.8 million Ohioans, will see their benefits reduced starting Friday.
That is when a temporary benefit hike from the 2009 federal economic stimulus package expires. The Agriculture Department says a family of four will receive 36 dollars less a month. Ohio Association of Foodbanks spokesperson Joree Jacobs says it will hurt the poorest of the poor and the economy in many communities.
Food stamp costs have increased as more people have signed up for the first time in the struggling economy. The program now costs nearly 80 billion dollars a year. The increase has turned the program into a target for U.S. House Republicans, who have proposed 4 billion dollars in cuts in each of the next ten years, and changes in eligibility and work requirements. Jacobs says the House and Senate resumed negotiations this week over reductions in the Farm Bill, which funds the food stamp program.
Jacobs says to help recipients make up for the cuts, food banks would have to increase what they are currently distributing by nearly 50 percent.