Food benefits being cut for 1 million children, veterans, elderly

SEATTLE - Tomorrow will be a pretty scary day for Washington, according to anti-hunger advocates. That's because starting Friday more than 1 million low-income families across the state will see their food assistance benefits cut by nearly $30 a month.

As part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known as Basic Food in Washington, saw a boost in its budget to help ease economic hardships during the recession. But those temporary dollars are scheduled to expire Nov. 1.

"This small increase in Basic Food benefits has provided an important stepping stone for Washingtonians during the deep economic recession and long recovery, empowering them to keep food on the table as they seek employment and send their children off to school," Tara Lee, communications director of the Washington State Budget & Policy Center, said in a statement.

According to the children's advocacy group, losing that money will affect 256,000 households with children, 234,000 seniors and people with disabilities and 51,600 veterans living in Washington.

Children's Alliance says for a Washington family of three existing benefits will be reduced to less than $1.40 per person per meal.

Washington currently ranks 15th in the nation for hunger. The Children's Alliance says at 6.1 percent, the number of families in Washington going hungry is significantly higher than the national rate.

Federal cuts to the Basic Food program aren't the only thing anti-hunger advocates are fighting against.

Children's Alliance is also urging state lawmakers to restore the cuts made to the Washington State Food Assistance (SFA) program. The SFA is responsible for helping thousands of immigrant families buy food but the program was cut in half during the 2012 legislative session.