Oklahoma Families Left With Uncertainty After Food Stamp Cuts
OKLAHOMA CITY - Hundreds of thousands of Oklahoma families on federal assistance will have to cut back on their grocery bill as cuts went into effect Friday for food stamps recipients.
Many families say they're going to have to stretch an even tighter budget without that extra assistance.
The Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) says more than 637,000 Oklahomans will be impacted by cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps.
A trip to the grocery store took the Morse family in Midwest City a little longer this time. Danielle Morse says she'll have to stretch her already lean budget to account for cuts to her food stamps.
"As long as they're helping me feed my children then I'm not going to worry about how much is dropped, unless it was dropped a considerable amount," Morse said.
That amount is $36 out of $668, Morse says she'll lose every month now because federal stimulus funds for food stamps from 2009 ran out Thursday night.
Morse will miss out on $432 over a year. Other families on assistance say that's a huge chunk.
"$30 can buy quite a bit, like two or three meals, depending on how you eat," said Amanda Walker, whose family uses food stamps.
"Towards the end of the month, I think it will be a big deal, you work and you work, and the pay doesn't go up. My husband's been at his job for years, and you get little raises, and it's not enough."
Mark Beutler, spokesperson for DHS says the cuts couldn't have come at a more difficult time, as the state saw record-increases of food stamp recipients in the last two months. Beutler says in September alone, more than 8,500 people added to the hundreds of thousands already on assistance.
"It's really difficult to tell our clients, who are struggling already to put food on the table, that you need to stretch your food budget even more," Beutler said.
"We do want to remind folks though that Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is just that. SNAP is meant to be a supplement to their food budget and not account for their entire food budget."
Morse says she recently signed up for food stamps when her husband had cataract surgery and was out of work.
"DHS has been awesome with helping us and making sure we had assistance because we were so relying on him to provide food for us," Morse said.
"And when we were getting the extra it helped, but now that it's dropped a little bit, there are some things that we're going to have to cut back on."
The amount each family on food stamps will now lose varies. Many families say the struggle is going back to the same amount of benefits they received in 2009, when prices have increased since then.
More than 47 million Americans use food stamps. DHS says 45% percent of Oklahomans on food stamps are children and working adults.