September 27th, 2013 | by Jessica Fulton

More than one in five DC residents soon will be hurt by federal budget cuts whether or not there’s a shutdown:  in five weeks, more than 144,000 District residents receiving food stamps will see a cut in the aid they receive to keep food on the table. The food budgets of low-income DC residents will fall $15 million over the year due to cuts to the program now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  This is because federal stimulus dollars that have boosted assistance in recent years will expire on November 1. 

The District has some options to help these families. It’s vitally important, because SNAP helps one in two DC children get enough to eat. For a family of four, the decline in resources could amount to up to $36 per month. That might not sound like a lot, but for some DC families it’s the difference between having dinner and going to bed hungry. 

Here are some ways DC can help:

  • Encourage SNAP Recipients to Claim Dependent Care Deduction  DC’s Department of Human Services can make it easier for families on SNAP to subtract dependent care costs from their income, resulting in a higher SNAP benefit. By allowing family heads to self-verify their expense, more families will claim this rarely used deduction. DHS also can allow parents to include transportation costs as a part of their dependent care expenses.   
  • Educate SNAP Families About Additional Assistance If They Care For Elderly Family Members  Families who are responsible for certain expenses, like child care or care for an elderly family member, can receive more food assistance if they report these responsibilities. 
  • Make SNAP Recipients Aware of Other Federal Assistance  SNAP recipients who find that the cuts deal a huge blow to their ability to purchase food can seek out other federal programs like WIC, school breakfast and lunch, afterschool meals, and senior nutrition programs. 

DC residents who receive SNAP benefits and service providers who work with SNAP recipients should contact DC Hunger Solutions to learn about more ways to cope with these cuts.

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