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Food stamp benefits decrease by 5 percent
BEAUMONT - by Lauren Huet
The organization Feeding America estimates one out of four people in Southeast Texas is "food insecure." "Food insecure" people do not have the means to obtain or eat three meals a day. Many use food stamps, and today, Congress let a temporary increase in food stamp benefits expire.
The temporary boost to food stamp benefits was part of the 2009 stimulus package. Now that it's expired, benefits are decreasing by five percent.
Dan Maher, the executive director of Southeast Texas Food Bank, says that means 9 million dollars will be cut from food stamp recipients in the Golden Triangle. This means roughly three million fewer meals each year for Southeast Texans who rely on food stamps.
"And when you think about that over a 365 day year, that's about 10 thousand meals a day that are going to be taken away from this community," said Maher. "People who really need that food to sustain themselves, to have the proper nutrition available to them."
Maher says a family of four on the food stamp program will receive an average of 36 dollars less per month. He says this translates to several days worth of food.
"So in a sense, these cuts virtually erase what the food bank is capable of doing, sadly. So, it really is going to require a greater community effort to help the food bank meet the capacity and demand that's going to be placed upon it," said Maher.
Maher says when Congress increased the budget for food stamps as part of the Stimulus Package, it was linked to an expected increase in food prices due to inflation. However, food prices did not increase substantially, so Congress decided to end the temporary boost to the program.