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Families Face Automatic Food Stamp Reduction Nov. 1

October 24, 2013

MEDIA CONTACT: Blain Johnson
(415) 282-1907 x270 (office), (512) 487-2583 (cell)

On Nov. 1, households receiving SNAP benefits will see an automatic reduction in the benefits they use to purchase groceries. Benefits, which are loaded monthly onto an electronic debit card, will be cut by an average $36 for a family of four.

“This reduction is the result of extra SNAP funding, which Congress authorized during the recession, running out several years later. The limited funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act expires Nov. 1, causing an automatic drop in food stamp benefits,” says Paul Ash, executive director for the San Francisco and Marin Food Banks.

“Thirty-six dollars for a family of four may not seem like much at first glance, but for a family scraping by, it matters a lot. Something we’ve heard time and time again from our pantry participants is that for their households, every single dollars counts and is budgeted for each month.

“Now, maybe a family won’t buy milk, or in order to buy food, they might forgo filling a prescription. These are tough decisions for anyone to make,” Ash says.

A difficult time for reductions
The benefits reduction comes at a difficult time for families, with the holidays around the corner and looming uncertainty about long-term cuts to the food stamp program through a proposed bill, which would cut SNAP by $40 billion over 10 years.

In San Francisco and Marin counties, about 57,000 people rely on CalFresh, as SNAP is known in California. 

“Any reduction in federal funding or food has a direct impact on Food Bank programs because it increases demand for our services,” Ash says. “In fact, the state website advising people on what to do in response to a reduction in benefits actually recommends they contact their nearest food banks for help.”

For more information about benefit reductions, please see the California Department of Social Services Frequently Asked Questions page

About the Food Bank
The Food Bank plays a central role in the food assistance network in San Francisco and Marin, where one in four residents is at risk of hunger. Families, seniors and individuals find critical support in the food the Food Bank delivers to its 450 partnering organizations, including 240 weekly grocery pantries. Each week, the Food Bank’s programs serve more than 147,000 people.

The pantry network is the cornerstone of the Food Bank’s distribution system. Set up farmer’s market-style, volunteers help households select groceries that can be used to create home-cooked meals. Nearly 60 percent of what is distributed is fresh fruits and vegetables.

The Food Bank will distribute more than 46 million pounds of food to the community this year alone – enough for more than 105,000 meals every day.

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