In Oakland County, the cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program affect 122,381 recipients who receive $12,779,358 in food assistance. In Macomb County, the $13,050,022 in cuts hit 124,973 people.
Nationwide, about 47 million food stamp recipients will see their benefits significantly reduced, according to MoneyWatch, a financial newsgathering entity.
Most of the cuts will affect households with seniors, people with disabilities and children.
Barring congressional intervention, the maximum payment for a family of four will shrink from $668 a month to $632, or $432 over the course of a year.
That amounts to 21 meals per month, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The cuts will leave participants in the program with an average of $1.40 to spend on each meal. The amount people get could sink even more if Congress makes deeper cuts later this year when House and Senate lawmakers try to hammer out a farm bill.
The cuts "will be close to catastrophic for many people," said Ross Fraser, a spokesman for Feeding America, the nation's largest domestic hunger-relief charity, which estimates that this week’s SNAP reduction will result in a loss of nearly 2 billion meals for poor families next year.
Food stamps are the government's biggest nutrition-assistance program for low-income people and, along with federal unemployment benefits, a key support system for the most vulnerable Americans. More than three-quarters of households getting food stamps include a child, elderly person or someone with a disability. Some 83 percent of families are at or below the official poverty line Along with children, seniors and people with disabilities, some 900,000 former U.S. veterans received food stamps and face cuts.
Another group with lots of members in SNAP: Veterans. U.S. Census Bureau data show that, in 2011, some 900,000 former U.S. military personnel lived in households that used food stamps.
The average SNAP recipient receives about $133 a month in benefits, while the typical family gets $278.
Experts say the food stamp cuts will spread hunger in the nation, undermine public health, and tax food banks around the country struggling to cope with the upsurge in poverty.
Jerry Wolffe is the Writer-in-Residence/Advocate at Large at the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center. He can be reached at (586) 263-8950.