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Less Money In The Pot For Families On Food Stamps

By Jennifer Lindgren, CBS 11 News

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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Starting November first, people enrolled in the government’s Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps, will see a reduction in monthly benefits.

Money added to the program in 2009 during the height of the recession expires at the end of October 2013.

For the average American family of four, it means $36 less per month to spend on groceries.

The average family in North Texas receives $135-$250 from SNAP, and 70 percent of the participants are children, elderly or disabled. The program covers more than 400,000 people in North Texas.

“It’s how I feed my kids every day,” says Norma Alvarez, a mother of three in West Dallas. Alvarez, who receives SNAP benefits solely for her children, says she received notice that she’ll lose $11 per child starting in November. She considers it a significant amount of money.

“It’s for eggs, milk, beans,” she says of the money.

Alvarez turns to Brother Bill’s Helping Hand in West Dallas to supplement what the SNAP program can’t cover. Each month, the non-profit serves about 1,300 people through their food pantry.

The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP, provides assistance to more than more than 400,000 people in North Texas. (credit: Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP, provides assistance to more than more than 400,000 people in North Texas. (credit: Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

Much of the supply at Brother Bill’s Helping Hand comes from the North Texas Food Bank, which supports more than 260 pantries in 13 counties.

Chief Executive Officer Jan Pruitt says, even though the economy is recovering, just as many people are coming in the pantry doors that did in 2008.

“The cuts may be on the table, but I can tell you what isn’t on the table, and that’s food,” Pruitt said.

Pruitt estimates, the North Texas Food Bank will need an additional 1.3 million pounds of food to make up the monthly demand put on food pantries by the food stamp cuts.

She says, the impact reaches beyond the families who are hungry.

“If you’re not concerned about the person who is going to the store with fewer dollars on SNAP benefit, you need to think about the economic benefit that comes when federal food stamps are used. That means grocery stores, retailers, revenue streams will be cut by $16 million dollars by these cuts,” Pruitt said.

More cuts to the food stamp program may be on the horizon.

As the U.S. Senate and House begin talks on the Farm Bill, $39 million worth of cuts to food stamps are on the table.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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