The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

October 31, 2013

Food-stamp benefits will drop 5% for recipients as stimulus ends

WASHINGTON — Congress is poised to let a temporary boost in food-stamp benefits end later this week for more than 47 million Americans.

The extra Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program aid was included in the 2009 economic-stimulus law. The aid subsidizes purchases by lower-income families. Food-stamp spending reached a record $78.4 billion in fiscal 2012 as annual average enrollment climbed 77 percent from 2007, government data show.

Unless a change is enacted before Nov. 1 — and none is scheduled for a vote in Congress — benefits for a family of four will fall by $36 a month, according to the Department of Agriculture. At maximum benefit levels in the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia, that works out to 5.4 percent less for that family of four.

"It's not going to get any easier for any of our families on Nov. 1," said Sarah LeStrange, a spokeswoman for the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas in Austin, which serves 300,000 people a year. "They don't need that money less."

The drop in benefits is frustrating, LeStrange said.

"We can't tell people to call their representatives because it's too late," she said.

Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., introduced a bill, H.R. 3108, to extend the aid increase through fiscal 2016. The measure, filed on Sept. 17, has 55 co-sponsors, all Democrats. It hasn't been scheduled for committee action.

Rep. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, a member of a House- Senate panel working on a farm-subsidy bill that includes food stamps, H.R. 2642, said he expects no debate on reviving the higher level of benefits.

Ending the increase is settled and "it's the law," Conaway said.

Monthly enrollment for the aid peaked in December at 47.8 million and was 47.6 million in July, according to the most- recent USDA data. In 2007, about 26.3 million Americans received food stamps at a cost to taxpayers of about $33.2 billion, the data show.

Retailers such as supercenter operator Wal-Mart Stores and grocery discounters such as Aldi and SuperValu's Save-A-Lot chain benefit from the program, according to a Bloomberg Industries analysis.

The House-Senate committee considering the larger legislation, known as the farm bill, is scheduled to meet for the first time on Wednesday. The two sides are furthest apart on funding food stamps.

Democrats who control the Senate would cut $4 billion over 10 years. Republicans who run the House would take out almost 10 times that much, $39 billion, over a decade. The House version also would require recipients to work or get job training, let states make drug testing a condition of eligibility and set food aid on a different authorization timeline from farm subsidies, a move to divorce food stamps from the farm bill entirely.

Though Democrats are now leading calls for the 2009 increase to be extended, the benefits were cut back to pay for other legislation by Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate, according to a report from the Washington-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • smothers ‘It breaks my heart’: Shooting victim’s death leaves trail of shattered lives

    Victoria Smothers knows what people thought when they heard that a young black male had been shot to death in Moxham last week.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • School violence studied

    On a typical day last year, Pennsylvania schools caught 11 students toting weapons similar to ones used to slash 21 students and a security guard at a Pittsburgh-area high school, according to the state Department of Education. An untold number of others likely brought weapons to school but weren’t caught, safety experts say.

    April 16, 2014

  • Home is Where The Tribune-Democrat is Delivered!

    April 16, 2014

  • egg hunt17 ACRP quietly notes 25th anniversary

    There will be little or no fanfare accompanying Alternative Community Resource Program’s 25th anniversary.
    And that’s how the executive director, Frank Janakovic, wants it.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • windber17 Windber students earn top ‘Overchiever’ rank

    Windber Area school’s PSSA scores have been tops in the region for the past several years.
    This year, they’re among the head of the class statewide, Pittsburgh Business Times annual Schools Guide shows.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wise, Charles Police charge bank robbery suspect

    A Johnstown man was jailed on $250,000 bond after police said he robbed the West End Branch of AmeriServ Financial. Charles Wise, 48, of Barron Avenue, was charged with two counts of robbery.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Inmate awaits sentencing for assault on guard

    A former inmate faces up to 15 years in prison when he is sentenced for assaulting a corrections officer at State Correctional Institution-Somerset, authorities said.

    April 16, 2014

  • windber pool Pool stays afloat despite troubles

    When a valve broke at the Windber Recreation Park pool last month, its municipal authority caretakers feared that meant the end for the pool’s aged, much-patched liner.
    But the old liner has held up – a stroke of luck that will save Windber Municipal Authority from having to seek a line of credit to cover repairs or risk delaying the pool opening, the authority’s recreation director, C.W. Beckley, said.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Creativity blossoming for spring art show

    The 16th annual Art in Bloom spring art show will brighten the Cambria County Courthouse in Ebensburg from noon to 6 p.m. April 26 and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 27.

    April 16, 2014

  • Alcatraz Challenge offers escape from routine

    Greater Johnstown Community YMCA is gearing up for its indoor biathlon, the Alcatraz Challenge.

    April 16, 2014

Poll

Do you think that Jack Williams will get the 270 signatures from city residents needed in order to have a referendum placed on a municipal ballot to have the city's pressure test mandate repealed?

Yes
No
I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads