Editor's note: Bob Aiken is chief executive of Feeding America, a nonprofit organization that seeks to feed the hungry through a national network of member food banks and also fosters efforts to end hunger.
In the last few weeks, the media has been ablaze with news of the government shutdown, the debt limit and health care reform. Missing from most public debate, however, is the cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits that will take place on November 1 and will affect every one of the more than 47 million Americans who depend on the program to help meet their basic nutritional needs.
When the changes are implemented, everyone enrolled in the SNAP program will see their benefits cut. For example, a family of four that qualifies for the maximum monthly benefit will lose $36 a month - that's a 5% reduction.
For a week, I stuck to a budget of about $1.50 per meal, the average SNAP benefit for one person. It was a tough week. I found myself drained and constantly thinking of food.
When the SNAP cuts take effect next week, benefits will average about $1.40 per meal. I can't imagine the strain this will place on struggling families who are counting every penny and trying to stretch their benefits.