Personal Finance

Cuts in food stamp benefits begin Friday

Nearly 1 million Missouri and Kansas residents will see their food stamp benefits go down starting Friday, just as Congress has begun negotiations on further cuts to the program.

About 15 percent of Missourians, or 933,000, get food stamps. About 11 percent of Kansans, or about 317,000 residents, are affected.

Nationwide, 47.6 million food stamp recipients will see their benefits cut.

The cuts are a result of the expiration of benefits that were increased when the stimulus bill passed in 2009.

For a family of four receiving food stamps, the maximum monthly benefit will fall $36, from $668 to $632.

“The upcoming cuts to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits will be significant and will have far-reaching impacts on low-income individuals and families,” said the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal group.

The benefits, which go to one in seven Americans, fluctuate based on factors that include food prices, inflation and income. The rolls swelled as the economy struggled in recent years, with the stimulus providing higher benefits and many people signing up for the first time.

As a result, the program has more than doubled in cost since 2008, to almost $80 billion a year. That has turned the program into a target for House Republicans looking to cut spending that helps the poor.

Negotiations on a wide-ranging farm bill, including cuts to the SNAP program, began Wednesday. Five-year farm bills passed by the House and the Senate would cut food stamps, reductions that would come on top of the cut that will go into effect Friday. But the two chambers are far apart on the amounts.

Legislation passed by the GOP-controlled House would cut food stamps by an additional $4 billion annually and tighten eligibility requirements. The House bill also would end government waivers that have let able-bodied adults without dependents receive food stamps indefinitely and would allow states to put broad new work requirements in place.

The Senate farm bill would cut a tenth of the House amount, with Democrats and President Barack Obama opposing major cuts.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.