Benefit cuts ahead for many Iowa families on food assistance - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Benefit cuts ahead for many Iowa families on food assistance

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Changes to the federal food assistance program are impacting thousands of Iowa families already struggling to put food on the table. About a quarter of Iowans who depend on food stamps will see their monthly allowance cut -- starting November 1st.

The government takes several variables into consideration when determining the level of assistance each family should receive. One of those variables is how much people pay for their utilities -- that gets deducted from their total household income.

Recently, Congress approved a different level -- a lower level -- of compensation for utilities. Meaning some families will see their adjusted household income go up and the amount of assistance they receive will drop.

Roger Munns, a spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Human Services, says the changes will impact about a quarter of households who depend on food assistance. That's about 50,000 families, most of whom have a household income of just $24,000 a year. That average family of three currently receives $262 a month in assistance.

He says in almost all cases the cut won't exceed $35 a month, but these families -- already struggling to get by, will notice.

"The food assistance benefit isn't very large to begin with. THe average benefit calculates out to about $1.35 per person per meal. You have to be pretty clever to get some nutritious food on the plate for that little bit of money," said Munns.

Munns said this won't impact those who are already at the lowest end of the income scale, or families who don't pay for their utilities.

Munns said anyone who is impacted by this change likely has already, or will soon, receive a notification letter in the mail.

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