Food stamp cuts mean a nearly $6 million loss for Oakland’s poor

Graffiti says "feed me"

Nearly $6 million in food stamp cuts hit Oakland's poor this month as the federal economic stimulus comes to an end. Photo credit: Jennifer Chaussee

Despite an increased demand for food assistance in Oakland and other cities across the US, food stamp benefits have been cut as the federal economic stimulus came to an end this month, marking the end of a four-year period that brought additional funding to social welfare programs.

Marcshea White, an East Oakland resident who became permanently disabled with two herniated discs in her back, and her family are just one of the 30,000 households in Oakland that receive benefits from CalFresh, the state’s food stamp program, each month. White said she and her three sons would starve without the $420 a month they currently receive through CalFresh.

“They (my sons) just eat so much – and they play sports, too, so they’re burning up calories,” White said. “I’ll fix a nice dinner and then they’ll come and eat a bowl of cereal right after.”

The cuts mean a nearly $6 million annual loss for Oakland, where close to $120 million in food stamp benefits were distributed this year. More than half of all food stamps in Alameda County go to Oakland households.

The average drop in food allowances in the city is $14 a month per household. But for the 2,300 4-person families like White’s, the cut will be closer to $36 a month.

White said the reduction would mean buying fewer groceries – and sometimes going hungry.

“I have to make sure the kids eat, so sometimes I just don’t eat,” White said.

Allison Pratt is the policy director at the Alameda County Community Food Bank. She says the monthly reductions will only increase demand on the food bank, which already sees an increasing number of people coming to the food bank when their CalFresh benefits run out in the 3rd or 4th week of the month.

“The cuts may not sound like a lot but it’s the difference between putting breakfast on the table, and breakfast being negotiable, and it shouldn’t be,” Pratt said.

According to experts at the Food Research and Action Center, a DC-based food policy nonprofit, the temporary stimulus that boosted food stamps back in 2009 was originally supposed to phase out over time by fixing benefits and allowing inflation to catch up to them. But the plan changed when Congress passed legislation reinstating various child nutrition programs, like healthy school lunch initiatives and subsidized after school meals. Food stamps received a direct cut instead of a slow phase-out in order to reallocate money toward the nutrition programs.

The shift in funding has puzzled some food policy experts, who note that a large proportion of food stamps already go to feeding children.  “You’re basically taking someone’s dinner to pay for their lunch,” Pratt said.

2 Comments

  1. EdC.

    The policies of the last administration has certainly continued its downward spiral. I mean when 50K American Manufacturing Plants closed shop and went to foreign soil–and those policies encouraged that. When you lose 750,000 jobs per month. When you start a phony war for Halliburton contracts and opened the spending to fund the war and borrowed $1T from China. From the time Clinton left office from the time Bush did–America became a debtor nation–when we were once the largest creditor nation. When you as a government in power monumentally screw up to a point–there becomes a point of know return.

    Since Obama, Republicans obstructed every piece of legislation that Democrats aimed giving something back to its citizens–Instead Republican Foxulalist’s and dyslexic Koch-infused, Tea Party patriot–voters– got people to take the side of the 1%, by playing on a false sense of patriotism and yes certainly a reverse version.

    You remember the Bush Tax Cuts? That piece of crony legislation cost $2T in federal tax revenues. In fact, every time they lowered the 1-2%’s taxes—every time they created a loophole–the allowance of major $B Corporations not to pay taxes and it’s owners paying 12-13% on theor net income –all this does have its dire consequences. In order to replace the loss of federal in-take, Republicans take it from social programs–from education–failing to give seniors a real COLA. They want to reduce U.I. EBT/SNAP/MEDICAID/privatize MEDICARE and SSI RETIREMENT. Its all in that Paul Ryan Manifesto of social engineering. They wrecked this nation to a state of disrepair–no OBAMA IS NOT YOUR BOYFRIEND or buddy. There is no magic dust in the teleprompter wand. The nation is broken beyond recovery–admit this–and its tough to–I know. We need another functioning wing of government bring some actual ideas to the table. Yes–a President can be nullified by the checks and balances that exist.

    As we approach the 50th anniversary the the murder of John F. Kennedy–as I look back in the rear view mirror of time—this was one of the worsts tragedies our nation–not limited to growing up and to have lived through a President who was murdered in office. You see, the very government we now have had its roots. Lets not be naive; corruption and cronyism has existed as long as our government system – but they day JFK was assassinated was the day the shadow government took control of this nation. Halliburton got its Viet Nam contracts and eventual work in Iraq and Afghanistan–so the Military Industrial Complex got what it wanted, as did the Texas oilmen LBJ represented as Texas State Senator–with the continuation of the Oil Depletion Act. (Oilmen were allowed not to pay ANY federal taxes. (Murchison, Hunt, Byrd). They viewed Kennedy as a socialist. If all this sounds familiar–its the same thing today. There was the potential of RFK getting 8 years, looming in the back drop. This would have changed the landscape of our government. But we were robbed of the vision he had for this nation. Stolen by the secret shadow government that has nowadays emerged slightly because they have assumed well control of the government. These are the lobbyists who bring the marching orders down from the owners of America, Inc. to the politicians–with big bags of $$$$ Cash with them.

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