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Food Stamp Cuts Reduce Money For Shoppers, Store Owners

Food stamp benefits are being cut to more than 47,000 people in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.

Across the country, more than 47 million Americans are seeing a reduction in benefits.

During the height of the recession in 2009, the increase was a temporary boost to the program known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or CalFresh in California.

A family of four on food stamps would get $668 per month in benefits. Now, that will be cut by $36 per month.

“The majority of people that receive CalFresh work. Or if not, they are children of disabled people. So if you don’t have an income or you’re disabled, that’s going to be a big impact on some families,” said Mario Velasco with Santa Barbara County Social Services.

That cut means less money to put food on the table.

John Dixon is the owner of Tri County Produce. He said only about 1 percent of his store sales are from electronic benefit cards, but it will have an impact.

“Anytime somebody has less money to spend especially with EBT, that’s for food, that’s going to affect every grocery store to some extent,” he said.

Recipients were notified about the decrease in benefits but it will take some getting used to.

“I think it’s very unfortunate to make all these cuts because the economy right now is already in a bad place. Still, uncertain things can become worse and people need help,” said Eve Konstantine, a Santa Barbara resident.

The cut will help reduce the cost of the $80 billion a year program, which some say needs to be restructured.

“The system is abused and they need to be more careful who they give food stamps to,” said Olivia Ochoa, a Santa Barbara resident.

The new reductions will save the government about $5 billion.

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