NJ Food Stamp Recipients Face New Hardship [AUDIO]
Come Nov. 1, the average family of four in New Jersey and across the country that receive food stamps will bring in about $36 less in monthly benefits as the temporary increase to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) runs out.
In 2009, the federal stimulus pumped $45.2 billion into SNAP, bringing the average monthly benefit from $588 to $668 for the average family of four. Starting in November, that same family will start getting $632 a month, which is almost a 5 percent cut.
"It's going to affect every SNAP recipient which is very concerning. Losing $36 a month is a big deal, especially when so many of these families are already living so close to the edge," said Diane Riley, director of advocacy for the Community Food Bank of New Jersey. "Many of these families have someone in the family who works. Many of them have jobs and because their wages have been flat or their hours haven't been maximized or they're working two jobs, they need support."
For many people, SNAP is income support.
"Expenses haven't gone down in the last ten years and wages haven't necessarily improved either, so $36 can go a long way. We're talking about the most basic thing, food. We need food for everything. We need it for energy to work and to learn. People are living paycheck to paycheck. You go to the pumps and gas prices are up one week. God forbid you have something wrong with your car one week. This is what people are juggling, so this $36 a month makes a difference," said Riley.
Riley said reducing SNAP won't just impact New Jersey families, it will also affect the economy. "Food pantries are often called upon to pick up the slack and that's been very difficult because we are stretched to the limit and we can't continue absorbing the way we have been. For every dollar of SNAP benefit, $1.73 is created in economic activity and that is helping local communities. Taking this SNAP money away also impacts the economy as a whole which will be a real hardship"