Countians not grumbling over SNAP cuts
by Paisley Boston
Nov 07, 2013 | 2504 views | 0 0 comments | 42 42 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Grocery prices soar to new heights while the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program shrinks after being cut by at least five percent per household.

"The price of grocery is so high. Industries have cut down on the size of the products but the price remains the same," said Loretta Phillips, director of the Mississippi Department of Human Services in Bolivar County.

"With the price of grocery now, the cut came at a bad time, but I guess it was something that had to happen. There was a time when you could go to the grocery store and buy enough food to last, but now it is almost cheaper to eat out rather than cook at home, especially if you are using coupons when you eat out," said Phillips.

According to Phillips, there are around 13,000 residents receiving SNAP benefits in Bolivar County, and there are some residents that qualify for the benefits, but they do not receive them mainly because they do not know that they can receive them.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is largely targeted toward assisting low-income and no-income people, SNAP benefits have become a valuable social program to help meet the nutritional and hunger needs of the most vulnerable in our society.

On Nov. 1 the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program was cut following the expiration of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The purpose of the act was to respond to the Great Recession in 2009, the primary objective for the act was to save and create jobs almost immediately.

Secondary objectives were to provide temporary relief programs for those most impacted by the recession and invest in infrastructure, education, health, and renewable energy.

The approximate cost of the economic stimulus package was estimated to be $787 billion at the time of passage, later revised to $831 billion between 2009 and 2019.

The Act included direct spending in infrastructure, education, health, and energy, federal tax incentives, and expansion of unemployment benefits and other social welfare provisions.

Although the recent cut has impacted individuals receiving SNAP benefits, Bolivar County Department of Human Services has not been receiving complaints.

"We have not had any complaints from residents in our particular agency, I guess because they realize that it is nationwide. When the funds were cut it had an impact on not only the individual, but on the community as well," added Phillips.

According to Bolivar County Supervisor James McBride, the change in SNAP benefits greatly hurt individuals not receiving SNAP benefits as well as those receiving them.

"The recent impact of the new SNAP cut has a trickle down effect. It not only affects the person receiving the benefits. In some ways it also affects employment," said McBride.

According to Phillips, SNAP benefits turnover about $1.70 for each dollar that is spent and when benefits are decreased, it cuts the turnover rate for local businesses.

"It can affect them because those places that accept SNAP will not get as much business," she added.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates it will deny SNAP to approximately 3.8 million low-income people in 2014 and to an average of nearly 3 million people each year over the coming decade. 

Those who would be thrown off the program include some of the nation’s most destitute adults, as well as many low-income children, seniors, and families that work for low wages. 

The bill is projected to cut off SNAP benefits to the following: 1.7 million unemployed, childless adults in 2014 who live in areas of high unemployment which is that a group that has an average income of only 22 percent of the poverty line and for whom SNAP is, in most cases, the only government assistance they receive; 2.1 million people in 2014, mostly low-income working families and low-income seniors, who have gross incomes or assets modestly above the federal SNAP limits but disposable income which is the income that a family actually has available to spend on food and other needs that are below the poverty line in most cases often because of high rent or child care costs.

In addition, 210,000 children in these families would also lose free school meals.