(Photo: Eileen Blass, USA TODAY)
Starting November 1, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP, that millions of American families rely on, will scale back the benefits.
The cuts come at a bad time, right before the holidays. But they also come at a time when lawmakers are considering to cut billions of dollars from the overall SNAP program. A weak economy and high unemployment rates have seen assistance numbers grow to about 48-million people in recent years.
The average monthly benefit is about $275 per household. The exact reduction depends on the recipients' situation, but a family of four with no other changes in circumstances will receive $36 less per month.
The House of Representatives passed a bill in mid-September that would eliminate about $39 billion from the SNAP budget over 10 years. The Senate approved a bill that aims for smaller cuts.
The benefits were boosted following the recession that began in 2008. The cuts will send the levels back down to where they were before that boost.
The current benefits are enough to buy a family food for about two and a half to three weeks. After the cuts, that will change to about two weeks.