Food support recipients to see small decrease in benefits

Food support recipients in what used to be called the food stamp program, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, will receive reduced benefits this autumn.

Starting Nov. 1, each SNAP household will see a slight decrease in benefits due to the sunsetting of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It will also mean a decrease in food portions under the Minnesota Family Investment Program, according to Cathy Stubbs, income maintenance program supervisor in Sherburne County.

Stubbs gave example scenarios of the changes: A household of one who receives the maximum benefit will see it drop from the current $200 to $189. The maximum benefit for a family of four will drop from $668 to $632.

On Sept. 30 this year, change took place for SNAP enrollees: Able-bodied adults ages 18-50 and with no dependents have to participate in employment and training activities at least 80 hours per month or they will not receive SNAP benefits for more than three months in a three-year period. Dependents are persons under age 18 in the home or an adult who needs an able-bodied adult for care.

Minnesota could have implemented the work-training requirement some time ago, but didn’t because it had a waiver. Because the waiver ended Sept. 30, the work-training requirement was scheduled to go into effect for those able-bodied adults.

The 16-day federal government shutdown, ending Oct. 14, had temporarily canceled enrollment in the work-training requirement but should be back in force now that the shutdown is over, Stubbs said.

Sherburne County had 18,559 households using SNAP in the first nine months of this year, with payments totaling close to $4.82 million. The households consisted of 24,060 adults and caregivers and 20,591 children.

Stubbs noted that counties do not have any monetary support to supplement food assistance when SNAP recipients receive a decrease in benefits.

People can call Minnesota Hunger Partners and the Minnesota Food help line at 888-711-1151 to seek a listing of food resources around the state.