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Food stamp cuts take effect

Family of four seeing $36 less in SNAP benefits

To Fred Bustamante, $14 matters.

That's how much has now been cut from the $200 in food stamps he's been getting each month.

"It will upset me," he said "That's what I make my house work on, $200 a month."

Friday, a temporary boost in benefits to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, expired.

Food stamp benefits were increased in 2009 to help families cope with the Recession.

Nearly 320,000 people in Bexar County rely on SNAP. Sixty percent of them are children or seniors on fixed incomes.

Benefits are being cut an average of 7 percent.

For Lydia Juarez, that means her family of five will see their $670 in monthly food stamps reduced by $47.

"Of course, it's going to affect us," she said. "My husband just had brain tumor surgery, so he's not working right now. It's affecting us big time."

The impact reaches beyond the supper table. Retailers are expected to feel it. So will food banks.

"We've already seen, just today on the first day of these cuts, new people," said Michael Guerra, director of development for the San Antonio Food Bank.

Because of the cuts in food stamps, the San Antonio Food Bank now expects to provide another 1 million meals per month to needy people.   Instead of the 72 million meals the Food Bank planned on, they now expect to provide 84 million meals this year.

"What I think we're really going to see is this will hit toward the end of the month, when people have run out of money and it's Thanksgiving," Guerra said.

The cuts come as Congress continues to debate a farm bill and another potential bite out of food stamps.

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