Food stamp cuts affect nearly 14,000 at Lake

LAKE OF THE OZARKS — The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) saw cuts to 47 million Americans’ food stamp benefits Nov. 1, including 933,000 Missourians and 13,800 people in the Lake area.

The cuts came with the end of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which temporarily allotted for raised SNAP benefits in 2009 to help foster economic activity after the recession.

People who qualify for SNAP typically fall into one of the following categories, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture: working for low wages or working part-time; unemployed; receiving welfare or other public assistance payments; elderly or disabled and low-income; or homeless. While the cuts affect every person across the country participating in SNAP, individual cuts differ.

“An individual’s benefit depends on many things — income, household size and expenses,” said Rebecca Woelfel of the Missouri Department of Social Services.

For example, the DSS projects the benefits of household of four people would decrease from $668 in October to $632 in November, a $36 loss. A family of three would go from $526 to $497 a month, a $29 loss.

The amount of SNAP benefits a person can receive is based on the USDA’s Thrifty Food Plan, which uses average food prices to determine how much it costs to buy food for nutritious, low-cost meals.

In the lake area, more than 13,000 people are experiencing the cuts. As of September, SNAP has served 5,747 people in 2,501 households in Camden County, 4,333 people in 1,834 households in Miller County and 3,720 people in 1,667 households in Morgan County.

SNAP served almost 47 million Americans — roughly one in seven — and distributed more than $74 billion in benefits during fiscal year 2012. Roughly $1.4 billion of that went to about 950,000 Missourians, 449,000 of whom are children and 188,000 of whom are elderly or disabled, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. SNAP participants in the lake’s tri-county area received $22.5 million worth of food aid.

One place SNAP participants will likely go to supplement their food supplies is their local food bank.

“We have many new people every month, so I cannot tell if they are coming because their food stamps have been cut,” said Judy Wimmer, director of Share the Harvest Food Pantry in Camden County. “We won’t probably know for three or four months what the outcome is going to be.”

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