Hundreds of thousands of Nevadans have to stretch their food budgets even further after federal budgets cuts reduced monthly food stamp benefits.
Reduced benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, took effect Nov. 1 for 48 million food stamp recipients nationwide.
In Nevada, 360,000 people receive food stamps.
Leslee Rogers, spokeswoman for the Salvation Army of Southern Nevada, said the cut in the program will likely lead to even more families and seniors coming to food banks.
The food pantry operated by the organization saw an increase last week from about 200 families a day to 220 to 225 families seeking food, she told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Last year at this time, the pantry was seeing 120 to 130 families a day.
The expiration of unemployment benefits for some families, combined now with this reduction, are factors in the rising demand, Rogers said.
“So we’ve seen a big increase for a lot of different reasons already this year,” she said.
The cut will reduce the maximum monthly benefit for a family of four by $36 to $632, the Department of Agriculture said. The cuts are across the board to all families. Benefit amounts depend on family size and a variety of other factors.
The cut is actually a return to the benefit levels for the program seen before they were upped in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 in response to the Great Recession.
SNAP benefits, which are paid by the federal government but are administered in Nevada by the state Department of Health and Human Services, cost about $45 million a month.
The average monthly benefit in Nevada is $259, according to Pew Charitable Trusts.