The amount of food stamp benefits families in Ohio receive will drop $50 a month based on new US Department of Agriculture calculations.
The monthly amount each household is offered under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program -- commonly known as food stamps -- is based on calculations made by the USDA. Those calculations considers such factors as the average cost of utilities.
With a mild winter and the price of natural gas low this year, the cost of utilities is down, prompting USDA to cut benefits proportionally. The bottom line for Ohioans is about $50 less per household per month beginning next year.
Last Friday the USDA released its latest data showing the SNAP program now helps feed 47.1 million Americans nationwide, an all-time high accounting for over 19 percent of the population.
The majority of the program's growth can be tied directly to the economic downturn. However, a portion of it also involves changes to eligibility requirements instituted by the Obama administration.
The USDA has also been running radio ads to encourage people to sign up. A similar ad campaign was run by the USDA under President Bush in 2004.
Evidence of abuse of SNAP has prompted Missouri to announce they will conduct an audit of their assistance program; there have been reports of SNAP users swiping their benefit cards at "casinos, gentlemen’s clubs and locations around the world." There are also reports of unemployed singles using their benefits to indulge their hipster, foodie instincts.