It’s been almost a full month since families on SNAP got their monthly allowance axed. In my family, we were without food stamps for a short time in November because we were re-certifying and the process wasn’t so straightforward this time. We got married on October 31st and social services needed a copy of our marriage certificate and all that jazz. So, it wasn’t until just last week that I found out what our new amount will be.DSC_1844

$509.00 for our family of 7, which is about $100 less than before. It’s roughly $2.60/day per person now. I am grateful because other people’s cuts were far worse . My husband also works full time ,so at least we have some actual money to fall back on, even if it means not paying something else. Some people  don’t have income when on SNAP.

It was said that the reduction would be  $36 less for a family of 4.Fullscreen capture 1112013 60429 PM So, by the chart released by the USDA, my family’s SNAP allowance should have been reduced by about $70, not $100. When I polled  people at the beginning of November on the Poor as Folk facebook page, of the hundreds of responses, only one person’s reduction was exactly what the chart said it would be. Most were far more than the estimate given. Two had gotten an increase of just a few dollars.

Is it just me or does the government have their own math?

Just like the tables with the “averages” that people receive on SNAP. Hardly anyone gets those amounts. Unfortunately, this is what people who do food stamp challenges base their week’s shopping from, giving everyone this pretty skewed idea of what shopping on food stamps looks like. $5/day?! THAT  would be uh-may-ZING and totally doable for most people.

It was also quite annoying that people didn’t even receive their official notice about their reduction until the last week in October. People who don’t read or listen to the news or utilize the Internet for that kind of information (like this blog or the page) were totally blindsided.

The cuts that happened November 1st were planned and shouldn’t be confused with future cuts to the SNAP program through the Farm Bill. It was supposed to happen. In 2009, there was extra money budgeted for SNAP as part of the stimulus. It was scheduled to end later than November 1,2013 but Congress in their (in)finite wisdom moved back the date.

This confuses me. If they felt the need to move back the date, all righty but why in November, a month that begins the holiday season? Thanksgiving and Christmas are both rough holidays for low income people as it is. For people on food stamps, their allowance is pretty much spent for the whole month by the time  those holidays come around toward the end of the month. When your food budget is $1.50-$2  per day per person, a $25 bird isn’t a reasonable purchase and then to figure in the sides…the average traditional Turkey Day dinner ends up being about $50. It’s just not a cost effective meal, even if you figure out all those ways to stretch the leftovers.

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Someone wasn’t thinking too clearly about the effects of that. Or didn’t care, I suppose.

Food pantries in America are always over taxed during the holidays as it is. This November has been “particularly hellish”, as one volunteer told me. Some have decided to not give out turkeys this year and instead focus on more practical items that will help over the whole month instead of  just one day.
Some pantries are praying that the holiday food drives will be better than ever and perhaps will give them a surplus of donations that will help families after the holidays,too. That’s the crazy thing about being poor. You still need to figure out how to eat the other times of the year besides the holidays.

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