Federal food stamp cuts to hit 250 thousand Utah residents


SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — About 250,000 Utah residents relying on food stamps will see their monthly benefits shrink in November unless Congress intervenes.

Congress increased the benefits by about 13 percent in 2009 as part of the federal stimulus law, but that temporary boost is scheduled to end Nov. 1.

Monthly benefits range from $16 to $200 per person, depending on someone’s circumstances.

When the scheduled cuts take place, about 100,000 Utah households will see those monthly benefits drop, The Salt Lake Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/19TSnSC ).

Randy Batchelor, whose family of four in Layton receives $668 a month in benefits, said he’s not sure how they will handle the drop come November.

The family will receive about $36 less per month, something Batchelor said he’s worried about stretching to cover their needs.

“We can always go with cheaper brands,” he said. “At the end of the month we’re running pretty tight — we’ll have to figure what we can do without.”

Officials with the Utah Department of Workforce Services, which administers the federal food stamp program in the state, said they’re preparing for the looming cut.

They’re planning to alert people with notices posted online and in DWS offices, in addition to other measures, said the agency’s general counsel, Geoffrey Landward.

“We’ll work to keep staffing levels so that phone waits are as low as possible, and that people understand what’s going on,” Landward said.

Anti-hunger advocates in Utah are working to let people know about the planned cut in benefits and anticipate increased demand at food banks.

Ginette Bott, Utah Food Bank’s chief marketing officer, said her agency is monitoring looming cuts to food stamps and any other programs to predict whether more Utah families may seek help.

“It is important to us to be prepared to meet any increases in need for Utahns statewide,” Bott said.

Gina Cornia, executive director for Utahns Against Hunger, said her organization and other advocates for low-income residents are coordinating with DWS to help families navigate the drop in benefits.

Cornia said she expects more families will seek out food banks and other help if the cuts take place as planned.

“Will they buy cheaper food or supplement by going to emergency food pantries?” Cornia said. “It doesn’t sound like a lot of money, but if your only food budget is food stamps, that makes it a lot harder to bridge that gap.”


Print Friendly, PDF & Email