Food Stamp Cuts Will Land On AR Working Poor
A cut in SNAP benefits this fall will reduce food subsides for Arkansas' low-wage families, according to the state's food banks. PHOTO of a mobile SNAP enrollment truck courtesy of Arkansas Advocates for Children & Families
August 15, 2013
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - A cut in food stamps coming this fall is expected to land especially hard on Arkansas's working poor. A temporary boost to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) enacted to stimulate the economy is set to expire in ten weeks.
Critics charge that food stamps are too generous, but supporters say it's a lifeline for low-income workers and their children.
According to the Reverend Bobbie Woodard-Jones, food pantry assistant at St. James Missionary Baptist Church in Fort Smith, every day they see working families that run out of food at the end of the month, even with help from SNAP and food banks.
"We give out enough food portions for maybe three to four days," she said. "And sometimes the family goes maybe up to eight days without enough food in the house; no staples, no milk, no nothing."
According to Brett Kincaid, outreach director for Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, the program here has very low overhead and very little waste. He said almost all of the benefits - about $1.40 per person per meal - ends up on the dinner table. And Kincaid added that the federal General Accounting Office found about two percent waste nationwide, which would be the envy of most private companies.
"They would love to know that they only had two percent inefficiency in all their expenditures," he said. "And any reduction is going to be felt directly by those that are already struggling every day just to make ends meet."
Half a million people in the state get food stamps, about one in six. Kincaid said almost all are either children, retired, disabled, or low-wage workers. He said that's why it's effective as economic stimulus, because the beneficiaries spend every dime they get, immediately.
"The overwhelming majority of SNAP recipients who can work do work," he said. "And it translates to less revenue going into grocery stores in Arkansas that serve that community."
The coming cut in food stamps will amount to about $30 a month for a family of three, a total of $52 million statewide.
More information is at goo.gl/NHfXKb.