A sign displays that a shop accepts Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT), more commonly known as Food Stamps, in the GrowNYC Greenmarket in Union Square on September 18, 2013 in New York City (AFP Photo)
The US food stamp system is to be reduced by $5 billion starting in November. The average benefit will shrink and the overall number of people receiving it will diminish by millions. The CEO of America’s largest food bank says the cuts will end in riots.
“Riots always begin typically the same way: when people cannot afford to eat food,” Margaret Purvis, president and CEO of the Food bank for New York City, told online news and entertainment site Salon.com
She added that families face the “daunting” prospect of losing a whole week’s worth of food every month.
Currently, the program costs about $80 billion per year and provides food aid nearly 15 per cent of all US households – over 45 million people.
A big automatic cut is expected on November 1, taking $5 billion from federal food-stamp spending over 2014. The benefit is set to shrink by 5 per cent.
One of the reasons for the reduction is the temporary expansion of the food-stamp program in 2009 as part of the Recovery Act.
Thus, the maximum monthly benefit for a household of four will drop by $36 a month, by $29 for a family of three, and by $20 for two people, according to a report published by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
That bill spent $45.2 billion to increase monthly benefit levels to around $133.
Now, almost 45 million people get food stamps – compared to 26.3 million, or 8.7% of the population, in 2007.