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Families' Food Stamp Benefits Purchase Less Food Each Year

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Publication Date: March 2007

Publisher(s): Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (Washington, D.C.)

Author(s): Dorothy Rosenbaum

Special Collection: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Topic: Health (Food and nutrition)
Social conditions (Public welfare and social services)

Keywords: Economic projections; Food costs; Food insecurity; Income diversity

Type: Report


Food stamp benefits average only about one dollar per person per meal (to be precise, the figure is $1.05 in 2007). In addition, as a result of benefit cuts enacted as part of the 1996 welfare law, the purchasing power of most households’ food stamp benefits is eroding in value each year. In 2008, food stamp benefits for a typical working parent with two children will be about $37 a month lower than they would have been without the across-the-board benefit cuts included in the 1996 law. By 2017, the average benefit reduction from those provisions will reach almost $45 a month in 2008 dollars. (See figure 1.) In fact, by 2017 a typical working parent of two will, over the course of a year, miss out on more than one and a half months-worth of food stamps, compared to the amount of benefits she or he would have received under the law in place prior to 1996. Under current rules, this lost ground will never be recovered.