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End of stimulus brings cuts to food stamp benefits | News

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End of stimulus brings cuts to food stamp benefits
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SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. -- Chantresa Smith is a working student and mother of two boys who said her benefits will shrink by $30 a month to $240 starting on November 1.

"It took me by surprise," she said. "My game plan is to budget my money a little more. I'll just have to live on less."

Smith learned of the change in a letter from DFACS a couple of weeks ago, but the cuts have been in planning stages for years.

They're the result of the expiration of a stimulus program under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

It included $45 billion for food stamps to help families facing hardship in the economic downturn.

According to the Atlanta Community Food Bank, a family of four in Georgia will now receive on average less than $1.40 per person per meal.

"The general feeling is that people who receive food stamps are taking advantage of the system. That is not the reality here," said Tamara Carrera, CEO of the Community Assistance Center. "The families that come here are families that are working, some of them several jobs."

The Community Assistance Center of Sandy Springs has already seen higher-than-usual demand over the past two months.

The end of the stimulus could could put extra pressure on this and other nonprofits to fill the void.

"People are making adjustments," Carrera said. "They are just making do, but making do is affecting their quality of life and how effective they are as parents and as workers."

Smith is a paid intern at the CAC. She's also a client.

"It'll be hard," she said. "It's like a week cut of food."

There are 1.9 million food stamp recipients in Georgia. Food stamps are officially known as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program or "SNAP."

Even deeper cuts are likely next year as Congress debates the farm bill that funds food stamps.

Senate Democrats are calling for $4.5 billion in cuts over 10 years.

House Republicans want to go even further by cutting $39 billion and adding new work requirements.

The deeper cuts would drop almost four million people form the program if they can't find a job.

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