Thousands of county residents face food aid cuts

How much does it cost you to provide one meal in your household?

How about to feed your family for a week? A month?

Now, what is providing that meal worth to you? Where does it rank in your priorities?

Winter’s approaching. Is a heating bill worth more?

What about water bills?

What is it worth to know your child doesn’t go to bed hungry?

The Federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) aims to help ease the burden of millions of people facing that question every day.

This November, circumstances are set to reduce that help overnight.

It’s not a matter of if, but of when, food stamp payment reductions are coming and the fallout will hit Warren County.

The expiration of federal stimulus funding for the program is coming in November, and the reduction will impact nearly all SNAP beneficiaries.

According to Anne Bale, deputy press secretary with the state Department of Public Welfare, the Food and Nutrition Services, which administers the supplements in Pennsylvania, is facing a 5.4 percent estimated decrease which will impact approximately 1.8 million SNAP recipients in the state.

As of this July, 5,713 of those recipients were in Warren County.

That number, approximately 14 percent of all residents, includes families with children, the elderly and the disabled. Populations that are some of the most vulnerable to the impact of the reductions facing steep expenses in other categories, such as medical costs.

SNAP benefits issued in the county in July totaled more than $630,000. That’s money which, in turn, passes through the local economy.

According to recently established figures provided by Bale, a single person household will go from an October maximum benefit allowance of $200 to a maximum of $189 in November. Meanwhile, a family of two would see a $20 decrease, a family of three a $29 decrease and a family of four a $36 decrease on Nov. 1.

Benefits for food stamp recipients have not increased since 2009.

Recipients will begin receiving notices of the reductions they face in October.

While the monthly amounts for reductions may not seem like much, consider the cost of a meal and what those numbers actually represent. At the current maximum benefit of $526, a family of four receives, at most, $17.53 per day to provide food in a 30-day month. Divide that figure by four, to account for each family member, and maximum individual benefits total $4.38 per day.

“Provided there are no changes made at the federal level, the department is unable to offset the changes,” Bale said.