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One More Reason to Strengthen SNAP: Inflation

Dette_Peck_SNAP
DeEtte Peck uses her EBT card in Portland, Ore., to purchase food (Brian Duss).

By Minju Zukowski

As we know, SNAP is under unprecedented attack— a recent proposal in the House of Representatives would cut the essential nutrition program by $40 billion. This could prove disastrous for the roughly 47.5 million Americans who currently depend on SNAP (formerly food stamps) to feed their families. In addition to any cuts made through the farm bill, all SNAP households will see a cut in SNAP benefits on Nov. 1,  when a temporary increase in benefits expires.

SNAP is also facing another enemy—inflation.

A new USDA report finds that SNAP allotments haven’t kept pace with inflation, meaning the amount of benefits families receive has remained relatively constant, even as food prices continue to climb. The average monthly SNAP benefit per person was $133.41 in 2012, which amounts to less than $1.50 per meal. The findings underscore the need to strengthen, rather than slash, this critical safety net program. Some key statistics from the report:

  • Adjusted for inflation in food prices, the maximum SNAP benefit declined by about 7
    percent, a reduction of about $47 per month for a family of four, between 2009 and 2011.
  • Increasing the maximum SNAP benefit by 10 percent ($69 per month for a family of four) would reduce the number of SNAP-recipient households with very low food security by about 22 percent, while reducing the maximum benefit by 10 percent would increase that number by about 29 percent.

These statistics show that while food-price inflation has eroded some of the value of SNAP benefits, bolstering the program can not only offset the problem, but reduce the number of households categorized as experiencing very low food security.

Help the millions of hungry and poor people who rely on this benefit—contact your members of congress during the August recess and ask them to vote against cuts to SNAP when they return to Washington in September.

Minju Zukowski, a senior marketing major at Towson University in Maryland, is Bread for the World’s media relations intern.

 

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