More than two million low-income Illinois residents who receive food stamps will soon see their benefits cut. Beginning Friday, a temporary increase in food stamp dollars from the 2009 economic stimulus will expire.
The change will affect more than 47 million Americans. It comes as Congress is negotiating additional cuts to the program, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.
"It is hard for members of Congress, in the House and the Senate -- it's hard for me too -- to really appreciate the lifestyle of someone living paycheck to paycheck," Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin said Thursday. "But that's a reality for millions of Americans. Many of the people who are receiving food stamps are working. That may come as a shock to people. They're not making enough money to feed their family."
Durbin said claims that the SNAP program is growing out of control are false and said the current economic climate is the wrong time to cut the benefit for Illinois families. The Illinois Hunger Coalition said the cuts that take effect Friday would affect about 349,000 seniors and 886,000 children statewide.
Executive Director Diane Doherty said the benefits have provided "an important stepping stone" for struggling families.
Benefits vary based on income and other factors. The Agriculture Department says the cuts will mean a family of four will receive $36 less per month.
Nationally, the program has more than doubled in cost since 2008.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.