Deadline Looms for Food Stamp Families

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Photo by: Karla Ann Cote

A deadline having passed, the federal government is now shut down after Congress failed to approve a budget for the new fiscal year that began October 1. Another deadline approaching, it's unclear if Congress will increase the country's debt limit.

Amid the furor over those stalemates, another deadline looms: On November 1, cuts to the Food Stamp program (officially, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) passed by Congress back in 2010 will go into effect. Families of three will see their maximum monthly benefit fall from $526 to $497.

On Tuesday, hunger advocates gathered at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine to unveil a Hunger Clock counting down to the November 1 deadline.

Nearly a quarter of New Yorkers—just under 1.9 million people—receive Food Stamp benefits; that's nearly five times the number of people who receive cash assistance, and reflects an increase of 40 percent since January 2009.

The November 1 cut is far from the only threat to Food Stamp benefits. The House has approved SNAP cuts of nearly $4 billion a year. A Senate version cuts far less, but still would shave some $400 million off the program.

According to City Harvest, some 2.9 million New York City residents are “food insecure,” meaning they sometimes don't have enough nutritious food to eat. Most of those people are eligible for Food Stamps or other nutrition programs, but about 40 percent are not.

Anti-hunger organizations have crafted a policy proposal for the next mayor called Food Secure 2018.

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