Food stamp stimulus money to expire, benefits to decrease

Food stamp stimulus money to expire, benefits to decrease

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Despite living with her sister and mother to help save mother, Michelle Bearden is struggling to pay the bills and relies on food stamps. Despite living with her sister and mother to help save mother, Michelle Bearden is struggling to pay the bills and relies on food stamps.
"It definitely worries me, because I don't have time to get a second job raising a 2 year old. There are so many hours in a day, so it does worry me quite a bit if I lose it all. I don't know what I'm going to do," Michelle Bearden said. "It definitely worries me, because I don't have time to get a second job raising a 2 year old. There are so many hours in a day, so it does worry me quite a bit if I lose it all. I don't know what I'm going to do," Michelle Bearden said.

By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A temporary increase in food stamps expires October 31, meaning for millions of Americans, the benefits that help put food on the table won't stretch as far as they have for the past four years.  

Food stamps, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, go to 47 million Americans a month. Almost half of them children and teenagers.

The monthly benefits, which go to one in seven Americans, fluctuate based on factors including food prices, income and inflation.  

Those could affect people right here in East Tennessee as 1.3 million Tennesseans receive food stamps at a cost of about $176 million every month. Money the state gets from the federal government.  

Sevierville resident Michelle Bearden is a single mother to her 2 year old daughter.  

Despite living with her sister and mother to help save mother, she still struggles making $8.25/hour as a full-time lifeguard at an indoor water park.  

"Working 40 hours a week, and then trying to pay bills, trying to pay for a 2 year old and everything without government. I can't even make with the government for what they're paying me, much less take a cut," Bearden said.  

Bearden is one of more than 400,000 East Tennesseans and millions of Americans relying on monthly food stamps that will see across the board cuts by the end of the month.  

Bearden receives $195 each month, which would be reduced by 5 percent or $10 less from her monthly payout.  

"Ten dollars does help, because I don't even have enough at the end of the month to gas. I used my last 20 dollars today to get gas and I don't get paid till next Friday," said Bearden.  

Bearden says any reduction to her food stamps would take away the little money she has to pay for bills and other necessities.  

"If it wasn't for the government, I would be stuck. So if they cut it, it will hurt me more," Bearden said.

The food stamp program is facing even more cuts. 

The U.S. House of Representatives voted last month voted to cut $4 billion from the program each year, which doesn't give many options for someone like Michelle Bearden.

"It definitely worries me, because I don't have time to get a second job raising a 2 year old. There are so many hours in a day, so it does worry me quite a bit if I lose it all. I don't know what I'm going to do," Bearden said.  

Tennessee's seven republican representatives voted in favor of more cuts to food stamps.

The program could face another shortfall if the government is shuttered past November 1.

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