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SNAPshot: Illinois families to get fewer food stamps

By   /   August 7, 2013  /   1 Comment

Part 11 of 20 in the series EBT Investigation

By Benjamin Yount | Illinois Watchdog

SPRINGFIELD — Food stamps are being scaled back slightly, but the average familial recipients in Illinois, one parent and one child, will still receive $347 a month from the government for groceries.

BARGAIN SHOPPERS: IL food stamp families will have to find ways to cover slightly less from the government.

“Beginning in November, the maximum 2 person allotment will decrease $20 — from $367 to $347,” said Januari Smith, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Human Services.

President Obama set the stage for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program reductions in 2009, when he pushed through a “temporary bump” in SNAP spending as part of his massive stimulus package.

The plan, apparently, was to make the temporary increase permanent. But that never happened.

Now there are cries that food stamp families will lose “14 meals a month.”

That must be some bargain shopping. A food stamp family of four, which currently receives $668 a month, will receive “only” $632 after the November reduction.

Ted Dabrowski, vice president of policy with the Illinois Policy Institute, said Illinois and the rest of the country have seen the food stamp population explode in recent years.

Now, Dabrowksi adds, the bill has come due.

“Our safety net is getting so big, we’re trying to spread the same amount of money over more and more people,” Dabrowksi said. “We’re making so many people dependent on government that we have to cut what we spend.”

Smith said all of Illinois’ 2 million-plus food stamp recipients will see a little bit less after November.

“Overall, it is a modest reduction considering the size of the program, but it will certainly impact households,” Smith noted.

Modest indeed. The USDA, which runs the food stamp program, spends $3 billion on food stamps in Illinois alone each year. The $20 monthly reduction comes to about $21.2 million for the year. That is less than one percent of the total amount spent on food stamps in Illinois. (0.7092198 percent to be exact)

Smith said anyone unhappy with the pending reductions should blame the USDA and not Illinois.

Dabrowski said Illinois’ failure is that so many people need food stamps in the first place.

“We need to focus on jobs,” Dabrowksi said. “We need to help people get off the safety net.”

BOOM: IL has seen a consistent uptick in food stamp participation.

Contact Benjamin Yount at [email protected] and find him on Twitter @BenYount.

Part of 20 in the series EBT Investigation


Ben formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.