Montanans on SNAP program brace for changes


MISSOULA, Mont. - More than 130,000 Montanans will see a cut to their food assistance on November 1, when a temporary increase in the SNAP program expires. SNAP is a federal food-assistance program, commonly known as "food stamps."

Back in 2009, President Barack Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act had temporarily boosted the benefits.

According to the Montana Public Health and Human Services Department, a family of three will have roughly $30 less a month to spend on groceries.

DPHHS staff tell NBC Montana that in Missoula County, there are 15,800 people enrolled in the SNAP program. Ravalli County has roughly 5,000.

According to DPHHS, 55,000 children and 9,000 seniors receive SNAP assistance, and the change will reduce Montana's SNAP budget by $13 million in the 2014 fiscal year.

Over at the Missoula Food Bank, Community Relations Director Jessica Allred told NBC Montana that the Food Bank may see an increase in usage at the Food Bank after the change kicks in on November 1.

"We would expect people would be in need of emergency food assistance more often because there are fewer resources to provide that adequate nutrition to the household," said Allred.

Opponents of the SNAP program say that people should rely less on government assistance, and some argue that some people rely on similar programs who don't actually need them. Meanwhile, supporters of the SNAP program are urging lawmakers to take action before the change takes effect.