Food Stamp Benefit Cuts Coming in November

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Cuts are coming for people who rely on food stamps.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, commonly known as the stimulus package, raised these benefits in 2009, but that raise is set to expire at the end of October.

Every individual on food assistance will see a decrease in benefits beginning Nov. 1, but how much of a decrease families will get will vary from household to household.

Christine Keith is a mother of four who has relied on food assistance for the past four years to feed her family.

"I think it's ridiculous they keep trying to cut from the people and the programs that can afford the cuts the least," she said.

Keith has taken to new ways to make her dollar stretch further, she even grows some of her own food.

"I've always tried to make that money go as far as possible," she said.

Though the coming winter months and less than ideal growing conditions have her worried.

"We still need the fresh stuff like the milk, eggs, cheese, the fruits and vegetables in the non-growing season," she said.

And then there's Joyce Simpson who lives on her own and has relied on food stamps for more than a decade.

"Everything is just going up, everything has gotten very expensive," Simpson said. "Without food stamps or by cutting them it's going to cut a lot of people down."

Simpson and Keith are just two examples of the nearly two million people currently on food stamps in the State of Michigan.

And with cuts coming in November, Judy Putnam with the Michigan League for Public Policy said the economic impact in Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties alone will be sizable.

"We're talking a seven million dollar impact next year," Putnam said. "That is seven million dollars that won't be going to families and households, seven million that won't be spent on groceries."

The cuts translate to about $36 less per month for a family of four on average, according to the Michigan Department of Human Services.

In all Putnam said the state will lose about $183 million a year from the November cuts but she fears the worst is still yet to come.

"We are extremely concerned about the potential cuts coming down the road from Congress," she said.

Both the House and Senate are looking at bills to cut billions more from food assistance programs which doesn't leave Simpson feeling very optimistic.

"It's just messing up people everywhere," Simpson said. "People are going to try and survive the best way they can."

Since each household will likely see a different decrease based on income, household size, and expenses, DHS recommends families check their new benefit balance before going to the store by calling 1-888-678-8914.

For more information on the cuts and resources to help plan healthier meals on a lower budget follow the link below to the Michigan Department of Human Services website.

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