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Cuts to Food Assistance Affect Ohio Families and Businesses Nov. 1

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A cut to food assistance goes into effect across the country Nov. 1. From member station WYSO, Lewis Wallace reports the end of federal stimulus funds will affect close to 2 million people in Ohio.

Thursday, October 31, 2013 at 5:39 pm

After the economy crashed, the 2009 Recovery Act propped up food assistance with billions in additional funds. That money expired yesterday, which means reduced benefits for almost all SNAP recipients.

Leslie Bates of Greene County Job and Family Services says the average cut in Greene County is $26 dollars per family.

"Twenty-six dollars is a big difference," Bates said. "It’s a big difference for their family. That could be a couple days meal."

The average amount of food assistance per person per meal will now be a $1.40. The cut affects about one in six Ohioans.

And Tom Borgerding of member station WOSU in Columbus reports grocers, discount and convenience stores face a tougher sell to some low-income customers who get food stamp benefits.

Central Ohio economist Jim Newton, says he expects grocers to respond with some price cuts.

"They are certainly going to be highly selective in where they cut their prices,” Newton said. "Try to find those things where volume is going to kind of offset price cuts."

The expiration of the stimulus means a family of four will see $36 dollars less per month in food stamps nationwide, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Newton predicts consumer spending reductions will likely spread beyond the grocery store.

"If people are going to have to switch some of their disposable income into buying food now that’s not being supported by food stamps, then other types of retailers are going to be impacted too. And, it comes at a particularly bad time of year with Christmas just around the corner."

Newton says the only good thing is that food inflation remains relatively modest.

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