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Food Budget Check-up for Montanans

PHOTO: One in eight Montanans receives SNAP food assistance. Families are seeing about $30 less per month. Photo courtesy of MT.gov.
PHOTO: One in eight Montanans receives SNAP food assistance. Families are seeing about $30 less per month. Photo courtesy of MT.gov.
November 13, 2013

MISSOULA, Mont. - Thirty dollars a month doesn't sound like much, but when it's part of a food budget for a family struggling to make ends meet it adds up quickly, according to Sarah Howell, executive director of Montana Women Vote.

The one in eight Montanans who receives Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits is seeing about that much less per household. Howell put it in perspective.

"The average monthly SNAP benefit for each household member is about $127," she said. "That works out to about $1.42 per person, per meal."

The reduction came with the expiration of a temporary boost in benefits that was established during the recession. While dealing with the recent reduction is tough, Howell said, there's great concern about more cuts on the way under the new Farm Bill. A congressional conference committee is hammering out details now.

Howell pointed out that most Montanans receiving SNAP are working - or are children.

"This stereotype of the unemployed 20-something who lives off food stamps is mean-spirited," she said. "We hope that Congress can come up with a good policy that really supports all of our community members when they need help making ends meet."

The U.S. House version of the Farm Bill would reduce SNAP by $40 billion over 10 years. Howell said that would mean 12,000 Montanans would lose assistance, although it's expected the House plan will change in conference.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MT