Food stamps will shrink Nov. 1: Recipients worry about food, heat
Food stamps go to 47 million Americans a month, almost half of them children and teenagers. A two-year stimulus bump in food stamp benefits will expire Oct. 31, prompting new worries for families.
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John Cochrane, a professor of finance at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business, also opposed the stimulus, saying it advanced the false assumption that "completely wasted federal spending helps the economy."Skip to next paragraph
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He said that worries about people who need help were a legitimate concern but that food stamps create a disincentive to move to find a better job because recipients are worried they'll lose the benefit.
"At some point," he said, "you have to be a little bit heartless."
One recipient, Jennifer Donald, a 31-year-old mother of three in Philadelphia, said she counts on the family's $460 monthly benefit to put food on the table. Her husband has a job sanitizing machines at meat-packing plants but it doesn't pay enough. She'll have to reduce the quality of the food she buys to stretch the benefits, then turn to food pantries once the money runs out.
"I was mad and devastated and a little bit confused because we need our benefits," Donald said in an interview at her row house, where she was preparing ground-beef tacos, a family favorite, while her 10-year-old daughter and two sons, 6 and 4, played and did homework. "This is the way we eat right now. Live a day in our life before you can cut our benefits."
In Concord, the New Hampshire Food Bank has seen demand grow steadily even as donations have fallen. The bank distributed 8.5 million pounds of food last year, compared with 4.5 million pounds at the start of the recession in 2007. Executive Director Mel Gosselin said the added pressure from expiration of the supplement will hurt.
"That's going to mean more reliance on emergency food systems that are already stretched to the max," she said during a tour of the bank's 60,000-square-foot warehouse. Three racks stretched to the ceiling but many shelves were bare as workers scooted around on pallet lifts loaded with food.
"That's three days' worth of food for me," Contee said. "The people who say $11 a month is hardly anything have money in the bank. A $5 Starbucks coffee is nothing to them."
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