130K Montanans on food assistance to see benefits reduced

2013-08-08T05:30:00Z 2014-05-23T21:11:40Z 130K Montanans on food assistance to see benefits reduced missoulian.com

HELENA – All of the nearly 130,000 Montanans on food assistance will see reductions in benefits Nov. 1 when a temporary increase to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program ends, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says.

This would result in an estimated 8 percent reduction in monthly benefits for those in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which was formerly known as food stamps.

The average benefit cut would amount to $10 a month per person on SNAP, said Jackie Semmens, a policy analyst for the Montana Budget and Policy Center, an advocacy group based in Helena.

Last month, the average SNAP benefit per Montana recipient was $124 a month, the state Department of Public Health and Human Services said.

In July, 129,450 Montanans received SNAP benefits, the state agency said.

At issue is the scheduled ending in November of the temporary boost to SNAP. It was part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the 2009 federal stimulus law, which was intended to strengthen the economy and ease hardships.

About 47 million Americans, including 22 million children, draw SNAP benefits.

A Montana family of three will have $29 less a month to put food on the table if the temporary boost ends, Semmens said.

“This increase in SNAP benefits has meant tens of thousands of families in Montana do not have to choose between buying medicine or cooking dinner, keeping the lights on or feeding kids breakfast,” Semmens said. “As we are still climbing out of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, now is not the time to cut back on a program that benefits Montana workers, families and economy.”

The cuts scheduled for November would reduce the SNAP program here by $13 million in fiscal 2014, Semmens said. About 55,000 children and 9,000 seniors in Montana rely on the program.

“SNAP keeps people out of poverty,” Semmens said. “The majority of recipients, who are able to work, do. And for those who are struggling to find work, or work at a job that doesn’t pay enough, SNAP is a vital lifeline.”

These benefits, she said, also help famers and grocery stores sell their goods to customers who otherwise might not be able to afford them.

The U.S. House recently defeated a bill that would have cut $20 billion from SNAP, eliminating food assistance for nearly 2 million people.

The House also voted recently to separate SNAP out of the farm bill, but Semmens said she assumes Congress won’t eliminate the program.

“Never before has SNAP experienced such across-the-board cuts that would impact all participants – the working, the elderly, the disabled and even children,” Semmens said.

Chuck Johnson is chief of the Lee Newspapers State Bureau in Helena. He can be reached by email at: chuck.johnson@lee.net or by phone at (406) 447-4066 or (800) 525-4920.

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(27) Comments

  1. Midwest Progressive
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    Midwest Progressive - August 12, 2013 8:55 am
    You bring up a great point. I'm all for ending corn subsidies and totally agree with your assessment that corn syrup is fueling our obesity epidemic. However, it's worth asking if we as a nation are okay with telling people what they can and cannot eat. Is that freedom?

    I personally think the solution doesn't lie in reforming SNAP, but changing which crops we subsidize. Junk food is cheap because it uses a lot of corn and soy.
    As a result, it's what low-income people can afford (it also doesn't require any/much preparation). We need to make fresh, local produce more affordable, as well as concentrating on nutrition education in school.

    One positive thing about SNAP is being able to use the benefits at Farmer's Markets. This helps local businesses as well as providing healthy food to those less fortunate.
  2. Midwest Progressive
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    Midwest Progressive - August 12, 2013 8:44 am
    Let me guess, you're for smaller government. Yet, you also support state-sanctioned fertilization and terminating parents' rights on the grounds of employment?

    I can only hope you're trolling.
  3. Midwest Progressive
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    Midwest Progressive - August 12, 2013 8:42 am
    Your generalizations are astounding. I'm a "20-something" who has been working since the age of 14. I don't know a single person around my age who lives with their parents by choice. Many of my friends aren't as fortunate as I was, and are still struggling to find work after college.

    The fact is, my generation was raised with people telling us that if we went to college and studied hard, we'd have a good paying job waiting for us at the end. Well guess what? College tuition rates keep on rising, student debt keeps accumulating, and the jobs we were promised keep disappearing. Not to mention, unpaid internships make it even harder for us to get into the job market.

    I'm sorry that you've had bad experiences with younger adults working at your office. At my office, we have a significant number of young employees, and I've never seen people "throw a fit" or quit because they didn't get the hours they want. They're thrilled to have a job at all, and are always willing to go out of their way to help.

    So please, stop generalizing, and stop demonizing me and my friends.
  4. madtaxpayer
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    madtaxpayer - August 09, 2013 3:50 pm
    allowing young adults to remain on their mommy's insurance until they're 26 doesn't promote independence either! All it does is teach the young to depend on mommy and then the government. They never learn how to be responsible and take care of themselves, this government has done nothing but breed a bunch of lazy 20 somethings! I see them at my office also, if they are asked to do anything extra, they literally throw a fit! If they don't get the hours they want, they quit. Why would they have to stay working when their mommy's will let them live at home for free! How embarrassing to still live with mommy at the age of 19, 20, 21 etc. When I was growing up, we wanted nothing more than to get out and show our parents how responsible we could be, we worked hard to become something in life. today all the kids think they should receive $20/hr to flip burgers!!!! spoiled rotten brats.
  5. madtaxpayer
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    madtaxpayer - August 09, 2013 3:44 pm
    so keep feeding their kids istead ot taking them away from awful parents and you are only supporting irresponsibility.
  6. NoturAverageBear
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    NoturAverageBear - August 09, 2013 12:38 pm
    It is our duty in life to benefit the rich man, that is the reason you were born, it is the reason you are raising children. If a few people are having trouble affording food, and feeding their child, it is a small sacrifice to make so the rich can amass more wealth. We exist to serve the rich! It is our destiny in life! If your basic needs in life are too expensive, maybe your not working enough jobs, If your not working 25/8, your not doing your god given duty to benefit the accumulation of wealth for the rich man. If you are too old to pull your own weight, your will become a bother to the rich man's profits like an old worn out pack animal....

    Get a few more jobs! --your children can raise them selves. ....heck they can get a few jobs too, the rich don't need your children to be educated, they just need more sources of profits!

    It is your duty in this life, the rich need our help, they will always need our servitude! It is why you were born American!
  7. madtaxpayer
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    madtaxpayer - August 09, 2013 8:04 am
    "Our country has the ability to provide its citizens with the opportunity to climb the economic ladder out of poverty"

    You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink.
  8. madtaxpayer
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    madtaxpayer - August 09, 2013 8:03 am
    you know, I do believe it is not the kids fault and they need to be taken care of but how about we spay the women who keep popping out these kids so they can remain on welfare? I don't care if people think that's wrong, I think it's wrong to take my taxes away from MY children to take care of irresponsible people! Take the kids away from these welfare parents until they get a job like the rest of us!!!!
  9. madtaxpayer
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    madtaxpayer - August 09, 2013 8:00 am
    I worked for $4/hr when I left home out on my own, I was responsible, never asked for any help, just continued to work my way up, paying my bills, NOT GETTING PREGNANT! Problem is this society today believe everyone else should take care of them, foot the bill, women keep popping out kids so they won't have to work! this country today is an embarrassment. No one beleives in a hard day's work, they just have their hand out asking for more free stuff. It's so sickening. I wonder why other taxpayers such as myself are so blind you don't see how much we are being taken advantage of. Welfare recipients are not embarrassed, they have no problem shouting out they're on medicaid in the dr. offices, no problem begging for food and money, no problem whipping out their welfare credit card at walmart with their 5 kids in tow!!! It is expected of the taxpayers to provide for the people who are not willing to work!
  10. madtaxpayer
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    madtaxpayer - August 09, 2013 7:55 am
    they're not struggling, they are LAZY!
  11. madtaxpayer
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    madtaxpayer - August 09, 2013 7:54 am
    wah wah wah. GET A JOB! Quit having kids you can't afford!!!! welfare capitol of the country, welcome to montana. Why work? just live under a bridge and get free healthcare, free food, free money, whatever you need, montana (especially Missoula) will give it to you! be responsible? Heck no, why when the government (taxpayers) will take care of you.
  12. cmoyles
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    cmoyles - August 08, 2013 3:30 pm
    I find this to be interesting. Could you give us a bit more detail on the employers in Missoula trying to find people to fill jobs?
  13. chaffincreek
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    chaffincreek - August 08, 2013 3:06 pm
    @reader3: Apparently you missed the part "The cuts scheduled for November would reduce the SNAP program here by $13 million in fiscal 2014, Semmens said. About 55,000 children and 9,000 seniors in Montana rely on the program."

    “SNAP keeps people out of poverty,” Semmens said. “The majority of recipients, who are able to work, do. And for those who are struggling to find work, or work at a job that doesn’t pay enough, SNAP is a vital lifeline.”
  14. chaffincreek
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    chaffincreek - August 08, 2013 3:03 pm
    @jus wunderin: I didn't have to look very hard. "Last year, the Clinton administration enacted a plan to reduce the federal work force by 272,000 over five years, mainly through buyouts and unfilled vacancies. About 100,000 jobs have already been cut." http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1995-11-26/news/1995330020_1_jobs-in-maryland-federal-jobs-federal-workers

    That said it is interesting to note that while jobs were eliminated the overall effect at the end of the second term of President Clinton was a net increase. It has been the same since 1980. Every president including Reagan has boasted that they would shrink the federal government - none have. Believe it or not government employment has grown the least under President Obama - so far.
  15. ReturnoftheNative
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    ReturnoftheNative - August 08, 2013 2:57 pm
    Many food stamp recipients are working full time. Others are disabled and drawing SSI, or are frail and elderly. Most importantly, children need to eat, regardless of parental irresponsibility.
  16. Lynne McKay
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    Lynne McKay - August 08, 2013 1:28 pm
    I own a business here in Missoula, and I know for a fact that there are plenty of jobs out there, but people are too comfortable living off the government who tax us so they can help these poor people. It's pretty simple. People say there are no jobs, the unemployment claims go up, and they get extended because people are still saying they can't get a job, da, their happy living on unemployment, they have a good time playing and collecting unemployment while employers are trying to find people. And, don't say I don't know what I'm talking about because I do! I'm in the personnel industry. Oh, and one last thing, if poor Johnny/Jane have been looking and looking, and can't find a job, then maybe he/she should take a look at their dress and interviewing style.
  17. raptor53
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    raptor53 - August 08, 2013 12:09 pm
    you cant eat the scenery here. want a decent job, move somewhere where the deer and antelope dont play. quit pretending there is opportunity here for high paying employment. quit bitching and leave. take responsibility for yourself. that is what adults do. not against helping those down on their luck, but KNOW some folks make a life of excuses and leaching off the rest of us that work. yes, I will still write $100 check to Montana Foodbank and I can afford to do that. In spite of the Rainbow Family scum that just "take":. Because Montana kids need to eat ! Party doesnt matter, fools ! Abolish the single party system.
  18. jus wundrin
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    jus wundrin - August 08, 2013 12:04 pm
    clintongore told us they eliminated thousands of federal jobs. Can you find a single federal employee who lost his/her job at that time?
  19. js350454
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    js350454 - August 08, 2013 11:57 am
    Easy answer: The environment.

    Trading the destruction of our environment and the illnesses associated with natural resource extraction for short term jobs is not the answer... Our country has the ability to provide its citizens with the opportunity to climb the economic ladder out of poverty, which right now is all but impossible. If we were to provide affordable education all the way through the college level, affordable healthcare, decent living wages and change our Reaganomic consumer driven (debt and tax) policies... but, we spend more time blaming and punishing the working poor for our problems while the filthy rich are leading the way....
  20. jus wundrin
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    jus wundrin - August 08, 2013 9:58 am
    The bush is still the president? I thought it was hillary?
  21. jus wundrin
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    jus wundrin - August 08, 2013 9:57 am
    A one sided emotional letter to stir up the emotionally driven. And as you see by some of the comments it works every time. Gotta give progressives kudos for this time tested, and effective, extreme leftist tactic.

    Easy fix: cut through the thickly woven red tape, and allow more harvests of our states vast natural resources. Along with that will come good paying jobs, and less need for food stamps. The progressives must ask themselves this very emotional question: Do you favor the environment, or the children, whos families are just barely scratching to stay above the poverty line?
  22. Shenanigans
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    Shenanigans - August 08, 2013 8:40 am
    The first thing that needs to happen with SNAP benefits is a dramatic restriction on what can be purchased. It is simply absurd that SNAP can be used to purchase soda and candy etc., especially when the EBT (electronic benefit transfer) system is already in place and rightly prohibits SNAP from applying to tobacco or alcohol purchases. But what do you suppose the response is when you ask Rep. Daines or his predecessor Denny Rehberg about this? Nothing but a form letter thanking you for your interest. Basically, the government is committed to subsidizing King Corn twice: through direct payments to farmers and again by making sure there is a steady base of consumers. Add on the fact corn syrup is fueling our obesity epidemic and thereby bloating medicaid, medicare and other taxpayer funded healthcare programs, and it's pretty undeniable us taxpayers are getting fleeced.
    While it's undoubtedly nearly pointless to do so, should you feel inspired to ask Steve Daines about any of this, here's his number 202-225-3211. While you're at it, ask why he has no public meetings scheduled in Montana (as of 8:37am on 8-8-13) during the August recess?
  23. marcbme
    Report Abuse
    marcbme - August 08, 2013 6:56 am
    Are you kidding me with this?? The man has been gone since 2008 and yet you STILL blame him for this?

    When will you Obammy supporters ever accept the fact that this is HIS economy now? He campained for it, he fought for it, he owns it!

    Come on, people. You must be intellectually honest and realize that this is the fault of EVERYONE in Washington. This isn't just them "evil GOP monsters" or the "incompentent liberal fools". Everyone in D.C. owns this nightmare. As soon as the american people wake up and stop playing one side against the other, the sooner we can get to firing the incompetent fools regardless of party.

  24. chaffincreek
    Report Abuse
    chaffincreek - August 08, 2013 5:45 am
    @BJackson: Of course you have credible sources that support your statement; let’s see them.
  25. BJackson
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    BJackson - August 07, 2013 10:49 pm
    MM, if you look at what really happened, the huge surplus was only on paper, Clinton had cut our resources and manipulated the books so much, it was not even funny!
  26. Bob
    Report Abuse
    Bob - August 07, 2013 10:10 pm
    Hey give the GOP a break! They have to go somewhere to keep subsidies to the oil companies!
  27. montanamuralist
    Report Abuse
    montanamuralist - August 07, 2013 9:04 pm
    As I have said on these pages many times, the Mr. Potter Party could care less about poor people struggling to make a living as is true of most of the brain dead conservative comments on here. I guess they are in to natural selection. If you get lucky, come from a family with enough money and can climb the economic ladder...great. The rest of you, who we need to clean out toilets and the like, and we pay minimum wage..fend for yourselves and we will continue to scratch our heads in amazement why you are complaining. Of course the American people voted these clown Republicans in office. Thanks George Bush for blowing our huge surplus on your excursion in to Iraq etc and your tax cut. Thanks for letting children starve and seniors die in lonliness without food or medicine ( if you conservative isiots get your way. Nice Christian principles there....sleep well.
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