As of Friday, November 1st, more than three and a half million food stamp recipients in Florida will see a reduction in that benefit. The initial reduction in SNAP -- the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – comes with the end of the federal stimulus spending package. That was passed in 2009 to boost the economy during the Great Recession.
For a family receiving the maximum benefit of 668 dollars per month, that translates to about 432 dollars less per year. Lambert says DCF is bracing for a flood of calls from recipients caught off guard by the decrease — despite an extensive campaign to notify them.
While bracing for the SNAP cuts, food programs are also watching as U-S House and Senate conferees prepare to negotiate a federal farm bill -- which could have much more far-reaching consequences for the program.
Cong. Jeff Miller says the cut on November 1st will be “very modest.” He’s among many Republicans who contend the food stamp budget — which has ballooned since the onset of the recession — needs to be cut further.
The GOP-led House of Representatives passed a bill in mid-September that would eliminate about 39 billion dollars from the SNAP budget over the next decade. Democrats forming the majority in the Senate have supported about four billion in cuts.
Food banks and other programs that help Florida's food-insecure residents have known for years that the cuts this week were coming. But advocates say that won't make them any easier. DeDe Flounlacker, the Executive Director of Manna Food Pantries in Pensacola, says they’re working on a couple of things on food collection and distribution.
For the past three months, Flounlacker says demand has been outpacing their food intake. Events on tap for this fall include the annual “Pick a Bowl” November 8th at Pensacola State College; and “Fill the Mayflower” during Thanksgiving week.