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Nov 1, 2013 8:22 PM by John Patrick

SNAP benefits cut for more than 1 million Arizonans

TUCSON - Starting today 1.1 million Arizonans who depend on SNAP may find it harder to feed their families.

The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program also known as food stamps are being cut because the stimulus money that boosted those benefits for the last four years has ran out. The cuts average about $36 for a family of four and those who rely on the government to feed their families may soon be getting a lot less help.

Parents like Monique Lopez rely on SNAP to put food on their families table. Now with her benefits cut she is finding it even harder to make ends meet. Lopez is turning to places like Pio Decimo Family Center for extra food.

"We barely get anything. So that is why we are here today, to get food boxes for help," explains Lopez.

SNAP serves 47 million Americans which lost $5 billion overnight after the Farm Bill that funds food stamps expired. For people like Lopez every penny counts when it comes to feeding her family.

Lopez says, "For them to cut that much for whatever the government is going through, well there are families out there that need this."

Liz Thomey with Pio Decimo Center says it helped over 400 families last month and with SNAP recipients trying to stretch their food budget the charity organization is bracing for an increase in business.

"For the average client, SNAP benefits run out on the third week and now it's going to be even tighter so we'll see a lot more people coming in," explains Thomey.

Both Democrats and Republicans have proposed more cuts to the program. Senate Democrats want $4.5 billion while House Republicans are pushing for ten times that, almost $40 billion.

Thomey says this is not only an issue for the families that receive benefits but for the community as well.

"For every $5 of SNAP benefits generated it generates $9 of community spending," says Thomey.

Deeper cuts would also drop almost 4 million people from the program if they can't find a job. The Republican plan would allow three months of benefits every three years unless the recipient works part-time or is in job training.

You can read more about the changes on the SNAP website. You can also contact Pio Decimo Family Center for help applying for SNAP benefits.

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