12 INVESTIGATES: Cuts coming to food stamps

Published: Sep. 9, 2013 at 9:03 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 9, 2013 at 9:32 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - One of out every eight Virginians is now on food stamps and many don't know major cuts are coming to the program.

Nearly 140,000 families in greater Richmond, and thousands more nationwide, will see a noticeable reduction in their benefits starting November.  A family of four will lose nearly $400 in SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits next year.

Congress and President Obama pumped a bunch of money into the SNAP program as part of the Recovery and Re-investment Act of 2009. That boost comes to an end October 31.

When the stimulus money runs out, a one-person household will see benefits drop by $11 a month. A two-person household will lose about $20 bucks a month. A family of three will lose $29, and a family of four will lose $36 each month.

"It still will hurt because this is the only income I have. They cut that, then I'm in trouble," said Richmond native Priscilla Eggleston. Her only income is from baby sitting.

The cut is about $5 billion nationwide. The Commonwealth stands to lose about $99 million, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.

"It will be a significant reduction and it will not be coming back," said the  Virginia Department of Social Services SNAP program director, Tom Steinhauser. "This is not something that Virginia is doing. It's a congressional action. They sunset the stimulus provision and so there's really nothing we can do to change their benefits."

Critics of the program say it's ripe with fraud and just adding to the national debt.

"I don't think they should cut it, cause half of Richmond, they poor. They ain't got no jobs around Richmond," said 65-year-old Vietnam veteran Malik Bey. He isn't on food stamps, but he says a lot of his friends rely on the program. "They trying to cut that, but they're going to send all the money overseas, you know, foreign aid. They ain't worrying about the people around here in America."

There is absolutely no movement in Congress right now to stop it the cuts. The Virginia Department of Social Services will begin sending out notices to families later this month.

Here is a link to more information from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities: http://www.cbpp.org/files/2-8-13fa.pdf

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