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SNAP Benefits Under Fire in Congress

HATFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) – Today, 47 million Americans receive nutritional supplementation through the SNAP program, but that supplementation is about to whither away.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 is coming to an end.

On November 1st, families receiving benefits will loose a portion of those benefits – benefits that usually don’t even get through the month.

Now, the House has passed a bill that has the potential to reduce these benefits by billions more nationally.

Christina Maxwell, Director of Programs at The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts says, “Families are often able to get their food stamps to get them through about 2 and a half weeks of the month, and then they rely on food pantries for the rest of the month.”

The average family in Massachusetts receives $235 per month in benefits.

Here in Western Mass, 166,000 families receive those benefits.

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts is a resource for many of these families, allowing them to supplement the benefits they receive and help them stretch their food budget.

In regards to the end of the ARRA of 2009, Maxwell adds, “those cuts will be severe but not catastrophic for most families.”

While the cuts coming on November first would impact every family receiving snap benefits, they don’t even compare to those that would result from the bill that the House of Representatives just passed.

The bill would cut $3.9 billion per year from the SNAP program, and those cuts would continue for 10 years.

“That will be devastating. that is an enormous cut that will take millions of people off the snap rules and will drastically reduce the benefits that the families get that do stay on the snap rules,” explained Christina.

Now the bill will head to congress where it’s fate will be decided, along with the fates of many families on SNAP.

Meanwhile President Obama is looking to extent the ARRA of 2009 for these benefits until March of 2014

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