By Julie Wiessner
Over one million Arizonans who take part in the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, saw their benefits cut last Friday.
Information by Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) for Navajo County shows that for September 2013, there were 14,030 households using SNAP, for a total of 35,841 people. Of that total 19,710 are adults and 16,131 are children.
The reduction in benefits has been scheduled since 2009, when Congress passed a temporary increase in benefits as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the federal economic stimulus. Unfortunately, those who qualify and use SNAP has nearly doubled since the time the funds were put into effect. Ten years ago in Arizona, the total numbers of households receiving SNAP was 202,185 and that figure now stands at 476,355.
The average SNAP benefit per person in September was $124.57 per month and the average household benefit was $318.22 a month. With the new cuts those amounts will be reduced by $11 per month for one person and up to $36 for a household of four people. While those amounts may not seem like much, the average daily dollar amount for a SNAP recipient to spend for food is $4.15, with the cuts, that amount is reduced by 36 cents.
Cherise Merrick, Director of the Bread of Life Mission in Holbrook, wants area residents to know they do not need to go without a meal for themselves or their children.
“We want everyone in the area to know, people are always welcome to come for any of the meals served at the Bread of Life Mission. The meal hours are at 6 a.m., 12 noon, and 6 p.m. All are welcomed. Folks just need to show up at the Bread Of Life Mission,” stated Merrick.
Such outreach is especially needed during this season when the costs of heating homes increases and the holidays are close at hand. The Holbrook Police Department will also be holding a non-perishable food drive beginning this week with boxes to be placed at selected areas throughout the city. All food items collected will then be given to Catholic Charities in Holbrook in order to increase their food supply in order to provide for those in need.
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By Julie Wiessner