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Food stamp program cut starts on Friday

A temporary increase to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that began in 2009 as part of the federal stimulus act ends Friday.

Once it ends, 860,000 people in Wisconsin will get less money to buy food. According to the Wisconsin Budget Project, an initiative of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, Wisconsin families will receive $89 million less in 2014.

Research analyst Tamarine Cornelius says a family of three would see benefits cut about $29 per month.

"Already SNAP benefits are pretty low compared to the food needs of a family," says Cornelius. "It only gives about $1.30 per person per meal. So given that SNAP benefits are already not enough, this reduction is going to make it that much harder for these families."

Cornelius says the hardest hit will be Milwaukee County and rural northern counties where more than half the children receive FoodShare, Wisconsin's name for SNAP. The impact of the cuts is expected to be widespread.

"When we take that money away, we make it harder for some families to get by but we're also taking some of the business away from some local grocery stores," says Cornelius. "That can shrink some of the local economy."

Other changes to FoodShare will take place next July when Wisconsin implements a work or training requirement. Exemptions like age, pregnancy and ability would prevent many from having to work to receive benefits.