Politics & Government

Food assistance payments getting smaller for Kentuckians on Nov. 1

Starting Nov. 1, monthly benefits will drop for the 879,771 Kentuckians enrolled in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps, the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services said Thursday.

Higher benefits for SNAP recipients that began under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 will expire because Congress has not voted to extend them, the cabinet said. This is unrelated to a vote by the House last month to possibly cut $39 billion from the food stamp program over the next decade.

The loss in benefits will vary depending on household size, income and expenses, the cabinet said. A two-person household that currently receives $367 a month likely will lose $20.

"The additional funding made a significant impact on our customers' access to nutritious foods," Department for Community Based Services Commissioner Teresa James said. "Though we are disappointed this extra funding is lapsing, we will still provide benefits to eligible customers and connect them with other community resources that can help feed their family healthful meals on a lower budget."

One in five Kentuckians get food stamps, though the number is far higher in the state's poorest areas. In southeastern Kentucky's 5th Congressional District, for example, 26 percent of households get food stamps, and nearly half of the homes with children under age 18 are enrolled in the program, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.