EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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September 26, 2013

Food stamp cuts to hit N.H. families

Benefits to decrease an average of 7.4 percent

Salem human services director Kathleen Walton is concerned about the number of food assistance applications flooding her office.

That number has nearly doubled since last year as local residents struggle to make ends meet, Walton said. She was disheartened to learn yesterday that figure could continue to skyrocket.

That’s because the New Hampshire Division of Family Assistance announced reductions in the federal food stamp program will affect 55,041 Granite State households, including many local families.

As of Nov. 1, benefits will decrease an average of 7.4 percent because extra funding provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009 will expire, according to division director Terry Smith.

“We are reaching out to all our clients that receive food stamp benefits so that they are aware of the changes and understand how this will affect them,” he said.

Recipients receive an average of $5.80 per day for food, Smith said. That will drop to $5.40 per day, he said.

Most households will receive roughly a $5 per person cost-of-living increase as of Oct. 1, but that will seem to make little difference when their food stamps are reduced a month later, he said.

The number of New Hampshire households receiving food stamps has increased 85 percent since 2008, he said. That figure has soared from 31,830 to 58,229, Smith said.

“These are people who were employed and are no longer employed or are employed in a new job market, which is part-time employment,” Smith said.

Walton said she’s worried how that will affect Salem residents who are already having a tough time.

“Folks are already exhausting their food stamps,” she said. “They are coming to the town for help and food. We are trying to help as best as we can.”

Walton said that from January to August 2012, her office spent $1,100 on food vouchers to help 54 Salem families.

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