Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Foodstamp Shutdown?

This past weekend saw the failure of the EBT (electronic benefits transfer) system in a number of states. I kiddingly called it a "dry run."  But a long-time reader pointed me to this story from Zero Hedge:

... a USDA (the currently shuttered agency that administers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) memo obtained by the Crossroads Urban Center in Utah carries in it a very disturbing warning for the 46+ million Americans currently on foodstamps. 

To wit: "understanding the operational issues and constraints that States face, and in the interest of preserving maximum flexibility, we are directing States to hold their November issuance files and delay transmission to State electronic benefit transfer (EBT) vendors until further notice." In other words, as Fox13News summarizes, "States across the country are being told to stop the supplemental nutrition assistance program for the month of November, pending further notice."
The article relies on a news report from Fox13 News in Utah.

However, my long-time reader also pointed me to this announcement from the Food Research and Announcement Center:

On November 1, 2013, the SNAP/Food Stamp benefit boost created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 ends. Federal law requires a decrease in monthly benefits for everyone getting benefits. The reduction takes effect on November 1, 2013.

The reduction is about 5.5 percent of the maximum allotment, so the amount of the decrease depends on the household size. 
The memo referenced in the Zero Hedge story seems to indicate that there is a lapse of funding due to the budget impasse in Washington, whereas the FRAC announcement seems to relate to a long-known reduction in benefits. In either case, there will be a lot of upset people in a couple of weeks. Remember your OPSEC and situational awareness, folks.

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