SNAP program hit with cutbacks

Posted at: 08/06/2013 5:13 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Almost a half-million New Mexicans may have less food on the table this fall, thanks to cutbacks in what used to be called the food stamp program. It's called the SNAP program nowadays – the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

The cutbacks may seem like no big deal to some people. The average reduction for a family of four will be about $40. But if you’re in that family of four, it looks a lot like the wolf at the door.

We caught up with the Dickens family, a family of four, on the playground at Pajarito Elementary School in Bernalillo County’s South Valley Tuesday morning. They receive $523 a month in SNAP benefits, and that is scheduled to go down to about $480 on November 1.  And let’s get this picture in focus – this is a working family, like a lot of families on SNAP benefits. Heath Dickens works fulltime as a teaching assistant for Albuquerque Public Schools. His wife Sia is a fulltime Mom for their two year old son and new baby daughter.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do in the future,” Sia said. “I already make everything that we eat. I make cakes, I make all our food. Everything is pretty much home cooked. Beans, rice, sometimes meat, sometimes not.”

“How far do they want to push us,” Heath said. “We’re already on the very end of what they would give us for the SNAP and it’s not quite enough, and they’re going to be taking more away. I just don’t know what to say to that. I don’t think they’re listening to the people.”

As it is, the SNAP benefits last a little over a half a month for most families. Many of them get more help from groups like Roadrunner Food Bank. What’s happening to the SNAP program now is that a boost in spending that was in the federal stimulus package in 2009 is about to expire – meaning less help for 442,000 New Mexicans – 215,000 of them are children.

Why cut SNAP? Congress is looking at cuts in just about every kind of federal spending – and spending on SNAP has more than doubled in the last five years of hard times in the economy.

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