The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Web Extra

October 29, 2013

Food-stamp benefits will drop 5% for recipients as stimulus ends

WASHINGTON — Congress is poised to let a temporary boost in food-stamp benefits end later this week for more than 47 million Americans.

The extra Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program aid was included in the 2009 economic-stimulus law. The aid subsidizes purchases by lower-income families. Food-stamp spending reached a record $78.4 billion in fiscal 2012 as annual average enrollment climbed 77 percent from 2007, government data show.

Unless a change is enacted before Nov. 1 — and none is scheduled for a vote in Congress — benefits for a family of four will fall by $36 a month, according to the Department of Agriculture. At maximum benefit levels in the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia, that works out to 5.4 percent less for that family of four.

"It's not going to get any easier for any of our families on Nov. 1," said Sarah LeStrange, a spokeswoman for the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas in Austin, which serves 300,000 people a year. "They don't need that money less."

The drop in benefits is frustrating, LeStrange said.

"We can't tell people to call their representatives because it's too late," she said.

Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., introduced a bill, H.R. 3108, to extend the aid increase through fiscal 2016. The measure, filed on Sept. 17, has 55 co-sponsors, all Democrats. It hasn't been scheduled for committee action.

Rep. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, a member of a House- Senate panel working on a farm-subsidy bill that includes food stamps, H.R. 2642, said he expects no debate on reviving the higher level of benefits.

Ending the increase is settled and "it's the law," Conaway said.

Monthly enrollment for the aid peaked in December at 47.8 million and was 47.6 million in July, according to the most- recent USDA data. In 2007, about 26.3 million Americans received food stamps at a cost to taxpayers of about $33.2 billion, the data show.

Retailers such as supercenter operator Wal-Mart Stores and grocery discounters such as Aldi and SuperValu's Save-A-Lot chain benefit from the program, according to a Bloomberg Industries analysis.

The House-Senate committee considering the larger legislation, known as the farm bill, is scheduled to meet for the first time on Wednesday. The two sides are furthest apart on funding food stamps.

Democrats who control the Senate would cut $4 billion over 10 years. Republicans who run the House would take out almost 10 times that much, $39 billion, over a decade. The House version also would require recipients to work or get job training, let states make drug testing a condition of eligibility and set food aid on a different authorization timeline from farm subsidies, a move to divorce food stamps from the farm bill entirely.

Though Democrats are now leading calls for the 2009 increase to be extended, the benefits were cut back to pay for other legislation by Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate, according to a report from the Washington-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

1
Text Only
Web Extra
  • Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 2.00.42 PM.png VIDEO: Train collides with semi truck carrying lighter fluid

    A truck driver from Washington is fortunate to be alive after driving his semi onto a set of tracks near Somerset, Ky., and being struck by a locomotive, which ignited his load of charcoal lighter fluid.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wal-Mart to cut prices more aggressively in back-to-school push

    Wal-Mart Stores plans to cut prices more aggressively during this year's back-to-school season and will add inventory to its online store as the chain battles retailers for student spending.

    July 22, 2014

  • Hospitals let patients schedule ER visits

    Three times within a week, 34-year-old Michael Granillo went to the emergency room at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles because of intense back pain. Each time, Granillo, who didn't have insurance, stayed for less than an hour before leaving without being seen by a doctor.

    July 22, 2014

  • Malaysians wonder 'Why us?' after second loss of airline jet

    It was all too familiar. Grieving families rushing to airport. The flashing television graphics of a plane's last radar appearance. The uncomfortable officials before a heavy thicket of microphones.
    For many Malaysians, the disappearance of Flight 370 in March has been a long trauma from which the nation has not yet recovered.

    July 22, 2014

  • Your chocolate addiction is only going to get more expensive

    For nearly two years, cocoa prices have been on the rise. Finally, that's affecting the price you pay for a bar of chocolate - and there's reason to believe it's only the beginning.

    July 18, 2014

  • Facebook tests button to let people shop from its website

    Members on desktop computers or mobile devices can click a "buy" button to make purchases through advertisements or other posts on the world's largest social network, the Menlo Park, California-based company said Thursday in a blog post.

    July 18, 2014

  • The terrible history of passenger planes getting shot out of the sky

    What is more clear is that, if initial reports are true, this would be the deadliest incident of a civilian passenger plane being shot down in modern memory. In some instances, the causes of the disaster are still shrouded in mystery. Here are some of the worst events.

    July 18, 2014

  • 130408_NT_BEA_good kids We're raising a generation of timid kids

    A week ago, a woman was charged with leaving her child in the car while she went into a store. Her 11-year-old child. This week, a woman was arrested for allowing her 9-year-old daughter to go to the park alone. Which raises just one question: America, what the heck is wrong with you?

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • web_starbucks-cof_big_ce.jpg Starbucks sees more Apple-like stores after Colombia debut

    This week Starbucks opened its first location in Colombia — a 2,700-square-foot store with a heated patio, concrete columns, mirrors on the ceiling and walls of colorful plants.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • VIDEO: New story emerges about Texas children locked in hot car

    After footage showed Texas shoppers breaking the windows of a hot car to rescue children trapped inside, additional witnesses have come forward to correct the story behind what has become a viral video.

    July 16, 2014