Time to Carve Turkey, not SNAP

Nov 27, 2013

By Helly Lee

Thanksgiving is the ultimate food holiday. Many Americans will travel far and near to celebrate with friends and family around dinner tables filled with elaborately prepared food. However, for many low income families, the holidays are an especially difficult time. Many struggle to provide the basics for their families, let alone a celebratory Thanksgiving feast.

For over 22 million low income families, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides support to ensure access to food. The average SNAP benefit of $1.50 per person, per meal barely covers a third of what an average serving of Thanksgiving dinner could cost. Yet, even these modest benefits are effective in reducing food insecurity.  SNAP is also responsive to the economy, expanding to help those in need and boost the economy in downturns and contracting as the economy recovers and the needs are less. In fact, as the economy continues to slowly recover, SNAP costs have already started to fall and are expected to fall further.

However, SNAP continues to face deep cuts in Congress. Earlier this summer the Senate passed a farm bill that would cut $4 billion from SNAP over 10 years. The House-passed bill proposes to take an even more drastic bite out of SNAP, cutting over $40 billion over 10 years. The House cuts would take away SNAP benefits from 4 million people, including children and seniors. In addition, these massive reductions would make it harder for unemployed workers to receive benefits -- even if they were willing to work but are simply unable to find jobs -- and the cuts would also make SNAP less responsive in the next recession.  This is a double hit on long-term unemployed workers, who face the added loss of federal extended unemployment benefits at the end of December.

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