One-in-seven Americans who rely on federal aid to put food on the table started their week with less, following Friday's expiration of a financial boost to the food stamp program. A 5-percent drop for those under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program means some local people will have a tougher time paying for essential foods. A little more than 3.4 million Texans rely on food stamps each month.
According to the Health and Human Services website, last month, 18,092 people in Brazos County received food stamps; if you take a closer look inside the Brazos Valley's seven county region, a total of 69,121 people relied on these benefits. But due to recent changes, $39 billion dollars is expected to be slashed from the program over the next decade.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Under the program, known formally as the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program, or SNAP, a family of four will receive $36 less each month because of the reduction,. A household of eight would see benefits reduced $65 a month.
It's a change that will directly affect those who desperately rely on the assistance, but according to Theresa Mangapora, it's a change that will also put an overwhelming pressure on food banks that are already in demand across the nation.
"SNAP was the safety net and the only other safety net is now the food pantries and food,” said Brazos Valley Food Bank Executive Director Theresa Mangapora. “In our fiscal year we gave out four-million pounds of food and for this first quarter we are already on track to do five or $5.8-million and that's before these cuts took place.”
Two factors are driving the fiscal squeeze. The first is the windup of additional SNAP allocations under President Obama's 2009 stimulus bill. The second is the inability of Congress to agree on a new farm bill.
"Between this permanent cut that started November 1st and what I think is going to happen with the farm bill negotiations is that vulnerable families are going to be even more vulnerable,” Mangapora said.
According to the Health and Human Services Website, Montgomery County has the highest number of food stamp recipients for the month of October in our seven-county region with 36,000 recipients. Brazos County comes in second with a little more than 18,000 recipients; and Grimes County is third with 3,000.
"It's hard for me to understand how something as basic as food being cut. But it is what it is and we're here to help people put food on the table but it just means I'm going to have to work a little bit harder,” said Mangapora.
Burleson County: 1,989 recipients
Brazos County: 18,092 recipients
Grimes County: 3,192 recipients
Leon County: 1,970 recipients
Madison County: 1,653 recipients
Montgomery County: 36,121 recipients
Robertson County: 2,973 recipients
Washington County: 3,131 recipients