WASHINGTON — Some 47 million Americans who rely on food stamps for their meals will have to get by on less, after their benefits were cut Friday.
“The impoverished are forced to eat junk if we want to eat,” said 32-year-old Tabitha, a mother of a 2- and 7-year-old staying at a Culver City, Calif., shelter, who asked her last name not be used to save embarrassment.
“It’s going to be difficult, as it already has been,’’ she said. “I don’t understand why there’s all this government funding, all these programs, and why feeding down-and-out people is not as important as it should be.”
The cut was triggered by the expiration of stimulus spending Congress approved in the depths of the recession. But it is unlikely to be the last. In Washington, the House and Senate are trying to reconcile measures each approved that would reduce food stamp spending by billions of dollars more.
Friday’s benefit reduction was meant to be timed to a brightening economy, yet many Americans remain stuck in poverty despite improvements from the worst of the recession.
“I think it’s a horrible thing,” said Najuah Mudahy, 30, also of the Culver City shelter, a food stamp recipient who works two jobs, as a clerk at a shoe store and a hostess at California Pizza Kitchen. The jobs bring in $9 an hour.
Mudahy said she runs out of money to keep her 3-year-old daughter fed before the end of every month, even on dinners of canned soup.
“It only forces people to do desperate things,” she said of the cuts.
Food advocates said there are millions of others in similar predicaments and implored Congress to stop seizing on the program for budget cuts.
Even before Friday, government statistics show, the benefit fell short of keeping those on food stamps well nourished. In California, the monthly allocation for a family of four with no income has now dropped to $632. The benefit varies around the country, based on the cost of living.