More than 1.9 million Georgians, including more than one in three Georgia children, are more likely to go hungry this month. At the outset of November dramatic cuts took effect for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP,” commonly called food stamps).
If you missed the media coverage asking how so many Georgia families will put food on the table now, that’s understandable. As one prominent media watchdog notes, you’ve been much more likely this month to see stories about middle class people fretting about health insurance rate shock than ones about low-income people dealing with painful cuts to nutritional assistance.
Families of three, such as a mother with two children, just lost about $29 a month in SNAP benefits. That’s about 21 meals per month. In total, Georgia’s economy stands to lose $210 million in food spending over the next 11 months.
Almost half of SNAP benefits in Georgia help children. That’s roughly 900,000 children in Georgia who are hurt by this cut. The cuts make it harder for the families feeding those children, and the rest of SNAP recipients, to put food on the table. The median income for a household receiving SNAP benefits in Georgia is about $18,000.
SNAP benefits are especially important to a child’s well-being. Hungry children are sick more often and more likely to be hospitalized. Hungry children also perform worse academically than well-fed children because they cannot concentrate.
This cut takes place at a time when Georgia already has high levels of hunger among children and adults and private charities are struggling to keep up with demand for food. One in five Georgians, including more than one in four children, lack sufficient access to food.
The $5 billion cut over the next year kicked off the same week that U.S. lawmakers from the House and Senate Agriculture committees began negotiating the Farm Bill, which includes investments in SNAP. The House version of the bill cuts $39 billion from SNAP over the next ten years, taking assistance away from 3.8 million people in 2014, and an average of 3 million people in every year thereafter. The bipartisan Senate Farm Bill that passed earlier this year included cuts of $4 billion over the next 10 years.
We will stay on top of this issue, so stay tuned for updates to the Farm Bill and food stamp story as it unfolds and what new developments will mean to Georgia’s low-income families.