On Friday, the food stamp program—aka SNAP—will get an automatic $5 billion budget cut, as a piece of the stimulus act that had boosted monthly benefits finally expires. Families will see their aid clipped by about 5 percent on average, or roughly $36 a month for a family of four who receives the maximum benefit, as shown in the graph below from the Center for Budget Policy and Priorities.
What difference do those cuts make? According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's thrifty meal plan, $36 is just about enough to feed an adult woman for a week. Now, SNAP isn't the only food assistance program out there; children can get free and reduced prices lunches at school, for instance. But the point is that even small-sounding cuts to the safety net can have a big impact on the needy.