theadanews.com - Ada, Oklahoma

Local News

September 21, 2013

Cuts to food stamps program will be felt locally

Ada — Oklahomans who rely on food stamps to feed their families may have to absorb a double blow starting this year.

More than 600,000 Oklahomans who receive food stamps will see their federal benefits drop starting Nov. 1, according to a news release from the Oklahoma Department of Human Resources. The department estimates that a family of four with no income would lose $36 in food aid each month, or the equivalent of 21 meals.

The federal government has cut spending on food stamps before, but not on such a massive scale, DHS spokesman Mark Beutler said Thursday. He noted that all recipients will see their benefits drop, regardless of how much assistance they receive.

“These cuts will affect everyone,” he said.

Beutler said Oklahoma could lose about $66 million in revenue from November of this year through September 2014 because food stamp recipients will have less money to spend on groceries.

People who receive benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Aid Program will see two major changes this fall. First, most households will see their deductions and income thresholds increase on Oct. 1 to reflect the cost of food.

The following month, most families will see their assistance drop because the extra benefits will expire.

The federal government increased food stamp benefits in 2009 as part of a larger stimulus package, which was aimed at easing the pain of the national recession. The extra benefits are set to expire Oct. 31.

Cuts to the SNAP program may be one reason why local food pantries are receiving more requests for assistance, said Jana Loyd, director of the Salvation Army in Ada.

“We have seen a very large increase in the number of food requests, and we are not the only ones,” she said in a phone interview Friday.

She said the Salvation Army received between nine and 14 requests for assistance during the period from February through April, but that number nearly tripled from May through August.

She said the looming cuts to SNAP were partly responsible for the increased number of requests, but other factors played a role as well.

Gary Brandt, past of the First Lutheran Church, predicted that cuts to SNAP will result in additional requests for assistance from local food pantries.

“Without a doubt,” he said.

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