Over 250,000 Utahns will see cuts made to their food assistance benefits this fall. In 2009, Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, temporarily increasing support to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. Gina Cornia, executive director for Utahns Against Hunger, describes some of the issues that many Utahns will face.
"All food stamps households in Utah will see about a $29 decrease in their food stamps benefits. That will mean lower income houses will have fewer resources and we want to make sure that not only the nonprofit community but the folks that are receiving food stamps are aware that this is going to happen. Because if people don’t know this cut is coming then on November 5th when people start getting their food stamp benefits and it’s less than what they anticipated, it sounds like “oh, it’s $29 a month, that’s not that much” but when that’s all the money you have to spend on food that any earnings you have going to rent, going to gas to get to work, it’s a lot of money. Families are going to be left to make even tougher choices when they are doing their grocery shopping," Cornia said.
Coincidentally, Nic Dunn, Public Information Officer at the Utah Department of Workforce Services, has seen the number of Utahns receiving food stamps decrease steadily over the past couple of years.
"The gist of what we’re seeing is that during the recession demand for food stamps increased a little bit but we’ve seen a reduction," Dunn said. "Fewer people are needing food stamps in Utah. We look at that as a good thing because more people are getting jobs so they don’t need food stamps, they don’t need to rely on government help to pay for their groceries because they are able to work and pay for it themselves."
Although the number food stamp recipients have decreased, still 1 out of every 11 Utahns are receiving these benefits.
All of nearly 47 million Americans, including 22 million children, will see a reduction in their food assistance.