Budget Cuts Could Leave 22 Million Children Without Food Stamps

children nutritionSome 22 million children who depend on the federal nutrition assistance program that replaced food stamps could lose their benefits under a 2013 budget resolution recently approved by the House Agricultural Committee. The budget, approved in April, would cut more than $33 billion over the next 10 years from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Approximately one third of the proposed cuts are directed at “categorical eligibility” restrictions that could leave as many as two million people per year ineligible for SNAP benefits. The proposed bill would also eliminate more than 250,000 children from automatic enrollment in the Free School Lunch and Breakfast Program. Their benefits could vanish as early as this year if the budget is passed.

According to Center for American Progress data, the proposed budget could end up affecting as many as 46 million Americans. Families of four currently enrolled in the SNAP program could lose about 11 percent of their total monthly benefits.

Massive cuts to the program could have a major economic impact, the organization warns, noting even a $1 billion decrease in SNAP funding could trigger almost 14,000 job losses.

The Center for American Progress Action Fund, alongside the Leadership Conference and the Coalition on Human Needs, launched a program entitled Half in Ten in 2008, which is described as “the campaign to cut poverty in half in ten years” on the project’s website.

In a recent Center for American Progress article she coauthored with Seth Hanlon, Half in Ten project director Melissa Boteach criticized the proposed SNAP cuts, claiming the FY 2013 budget proposal would affect the “most vulnerable in our society and the working poor.”

“The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides the biggest ‘bang for the buck’ in terms of job creation, creating $1.73 in economic activity for every dollar spent on the program,” Boteach said. “In contrast, tax cuts for the wealthy are one of the weakest options for job growth because those households tend to save the extra cash from a tax cut rather than spending it in the economy.”

According to FY 2008 federal data, nearly 60 percent of SNAP recipients had incomes at or below the poverty line, with the average household receiving $272 in monthly program benefits. During the same period, children made up almost half of the population receiving funding.

Photo via Flickr  USDAgov