While few expect the House of Representatives measure to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will pass, benefits will still drop in October and November.
A bill in the House was approved, with affirmative votes from all five Oklahoma congressmen, which would approve $40 billion in cuts from the nearly $80 billion program. However, the bill is not expected to pass in the Senate, and the White House has announced that President Barack Obama will veto the bill, if it should make it to his desk.
While additional cuts are not likely to be passed, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is set to expire, meaning those receiving benefits will see a reduction anyway.
The act expiring will result in benefits decreasing to their original levels, and income thresholds will be increased.
Oklahomans may lose their benefits if they are out of the income thresholds, and those who maintain their assistance will see a decrease.
Current income limits, which are set to expire Sept. 30, are $2,498 gross for a family of four, or $1,921 net for the same family.
The benefit for a family of four without income is expected to drop by about $36, going from $668 to $632. Individuals on assistance will receive notice in the mail of how their benefits will change, based upon the specifics of their situation, including family size, income and expenses.
Diane Collins, social worker for the Salvation Army, works with many people in poverty. Collins said there is a homeless problem in Shawnee, but she added that there is also an issue with poverty in Shawnee.
Pottawatomie County is third in the state for SNAP benefit dollars, at $2.74 million received each month. Oklahoma County is first, receiving more than $17 million per month and Tulsa County is second, receiving more than $11.5 million per month.
Collins said there are many individuals she works with who will be affected by the reductions who have other options. However many of the elderly and those families with children do not have other options, she added.
“Those are the ones my heart breaks for – the elderly and families with children,” Collins said.