As Thanksgiving Approaches, Texas Will Lose Over $400 Million in Hunger Assistance

On November 1, Texas families receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program assistance (SNAP, aka food stamps) will have their benefits cut by an average of 7 percent — or $36 per month for a family of four. The cuts will strip $411 million worth of assistance in Texas and impact more than four million Texans. Over half of which are children.

"This unconscionable cut will add insult to injury when families suddenly find they are unable to buy a Thanksgiving turkey," said Celia Cole, CEO of the Texas Food Bank Network.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the cuts will mean families can afford many fewer meals per month and will likely experience increased rates of food insecurity:

"This cut will be the equivalent of taking away 21 meals per month for a family of four, or 16 meals for a family of three, based on calculations using the $1.70 to $2 per meal provided for in the Thrifty Food Plan. USDA research has found that the Recovery Act's benefit boost cut the number of households in which one or more persons had to skip meals or otherwise eat less because they lacked money — what USDA calls "very low food security" — by about 500,000 households in 2009."

The table below shows how different family sizes will be impacted. And while some of the cuts may not seem like a lot of money, they make a big difference to people who receive only $4 a day for meals.

The November 1 cuts are the result of an expiring provision from the 2009 Recovery Act, which created a temporary boost in SNAP benefits to combat the increase in hunger that would result from the recession. Though the boost was supposed to last through April of 2014, Congress voted twice last year to terminate it earlier, and then earlier still, to pay for other legislation.

And while many indicators point to an economic recovery, hunger is not among them. Hunger in Texas has actually gotten significantly worse. As we previously reported, Texas has the third-highest rate of "food insecurity" in the nation, with one in five Texans either hungry or at risk of hunger between 2010 and 2012.

Meanwhile, as hunger continues to worsen, Congress is debating whether to cut another $40 billion from SNAP through a farm bill under consideration in the House — which also continues massive subsidies for corporate farms.  

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