Hitting home: Food stamps cuts affect thousands in Butte area

2013-11-13T00:00:00Z 2013-11-13T09:21:50Z Hitting home: Food stamps cuts affect thousands in Butte area Montana Standard

More than 6,000 recipients in Butte-Silver Bow County and Granite County combined and 1,455 in Anaconda are affected by food stamp cuts that went into effect Nov. 1.

That means $36 per month less for a family of four that receives a full benefit amount of $668 per month in food stamps, and about $10 less per individual who qualifies.

The cuts don’t cut anyone from the program, they just reduce the benefit, said Jon Ebelt with the state Department of Public Health and Human Services.

As for the figures above:

“That’s at the extreme end because a lot of people have income and benefits,” said Jon Ebelt, with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.

Still, the pain is palpable at the Butte Emergency Food Bank, 1019 E. Second St.

Director Kathy Griffith can attest to it.

Griffith said she’s seen a definite increase in requests for food so far in November. She’s not quite sure how it will unfold.

“It’s hard to tell; it’s early,” said Griffith. “I certainly seem to see an increase, and $36 seems minimal, but for some families that’s the cost of milk and bread.”

A gallon of whole milk can cost up to $4, a loaf of non-fortified bread starts at $2 and a dozen eggs can run around $2.

As the holidays approach and cold weather settles in, more recipients may struggle to put food basics on the table.

A supplemental food box is available to food bank clients every 30 days if they qualify for food stamps.

“So without the food stamp supplement coming in,” added Griffith, “They’re going to be short on food, and who can make that up for them? How are they going to get by for the month?”


She processed eight new signups on Thursday, but she remains in wait-and-see mode until the food bank’s annual food drive on Dec. 7, when about 60,000 to 70,000 pounds of food are collected to bolster its shelves.

“I don’t know where the numbers are coming from — the layoffs or the reduction in staff,” she added, referring to recently publicized closures of Denny’s and 4-B’s restaurants in the past month, plus 26 layoffs at Renewable Energy Corp. on Wednesday.

In October, Griffith said the food bank served 2,700 individuals from the county and Whitehall, including 800 households, 550 of which include children. In addition, the food bank serves free community meals, such as the regular Knights of Columbus dinner.


As for eligible, “chronically hungry” students in the Butte school district, the food bank distributes an average of 300 bags a week in the Backpack Program in the schools, said Griffith.

Mark Harrison, Central Services director for the district, discreetly delivers the backpacks on a regular basis. In September and October he dropped off 1,600 backpack meals for students.

They’re typically the same children who qualify for free or reduced lunches, Griffith said.

However, Harrison said that not all students who qualify for free or reduced lunch with the district are necessarily food stamp recipients.

All told, 45.7 percent of students in Butte school district schools qualify for free and reduced lunches, Harrison added.

“These numbers don’t tell me if these students are on food stamps,” said Harrison, although he regularly receives lists of eligible students from the state. “That list tells us that they get free lunch, but not all the students who qualify for free lunch get food stamps.”


Five Butte public schools have over 50 percent of the students who qualify for free and reduced lunches, statistics show: Kennedy Elementary 64.4 percent; West Elementary 60.2 percent; Butte High Career Center 58.7 percent; Emerson Elementary 57.1 percent; and East Middle School 53 percent. The other schools range from 32 to over 49 percent.

Three-hundred fewer students receive free and reduced lunches this time of year because many parents forget they must reapply annually due to federal law, said Harrison, who can be reached at 533-2590. Front-office school secretaries provide applications, too.

A direct correlation exists between those eligible students and families who qualify for food stamps, said Ebelt and Barb Andreozzi, Anaconda-Deer Lodge county extension agent.

Andreozzi and new Butte-Silver Bow County extension agent Kellee Anderson teach educational classes on how to best stretch a dollar when grocery shopping.

“Food stamps are just so important for those families,” said Andreozzi.

— Reporter Renata Birkenbuel may be reached at Renata.birkenbuel@lee.net and (406) 496-5512.

Copyright 2015 Montana Standard. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(29) Comments

  1. wl0414
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    wl0414 - November 17, 2013 10:23 am
    Fewer than one in four Americans have enough money in their savings account to cover at least six months of expenses, enough to help cushion the blow of a job loss, medical emergency or some other unexpected event, according to the survey of 1,000 adults. Meanwhile, 50% of those surveyed have less than a three-month cushion and 27% had no savings at all.
    This is just how close most people are to going on assistance; or in the words of the GOP becoming takers.
    Speaking of takers from the government.
    Montana currently receives approximately $1.77 in federal money for every one dollar that it pays into the government.
    God help us if the federal government ever decides take our state off of assistance.
  2. wl0414
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    wl0414 - November 17, 2013 9:42 am
    •76% of SNAP households included a child, an elderly person, or a disabled person.
    These vulnerable households receive 83% of all SNAP benefits.[i]
    SNAP eligibility is limited to households with gross income of no more than 130% of the federal poverty guideline, but the majority of households have income well below the maximum: 83% of SNAP households have gross income at or below 100% of the poverty guideline ($19,530 for a family of 3 in 2013), and these households receive about 91% of all benefits. 61% of SNAP households have gross income at or below 75% of the poverty guideline ($14,648 for a family of 3 in 2013).[ii]
    The average SNAP household has a gross monthly income of $744; net monthly income of $338 after the standard deduction and, for certain households, deductions for child care, medical expenses, and shelter costs; and countable resources of $331, such as a bank account

    California taxpayers are spending $86 million a year providing healthcare and other public assistance to the state’s 44,000 Wal-Mart employees, according to a new study by UC Berkeley’s Institute for Industrial Relations.
    Even compared to other retailers, Wal-Mart imposes an especially large burden on taxpayers. Wal-Mart workers earn 31 percent less than the average for workers at large retail companies (more than 1,000 employees), the study found, and require 39 percent more in public assistance.
    Wal-Mart gross profitf or 2012 17B.
    Raise the minimum wage so these people can make a living, or impose a tax on large employers such as Wal-Mart to make up the difference
  3. Buttebacker
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    Buttebacker - November 17, 2013 8:40 am
    Remember most also get a social security check for six hundred to a thousand dollars Plenty of money when figure in subsidized housing. Disgraceful
  4. johnsemour
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    johnsemour - November 16, 2013 4:09 pm
    I saw a lady at Safeway with her two kids buy 2 liters of Pepsi, case of Coke and name brand frozen foods like red baron pizza. This program should be limited to store brand goods, frozen and fresh meats/vegetables and juices with more than 40% juice
  5. JackO
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    JackO - November 14, 2013 10:29 pm
    Complaints about people receiving food aid?? Ostrich heads in the sand.

    Poor countries cannot compete with US agri commodities in the market. Why? It's NOT a free market. The US farm bill is a trillion dollars. Agriculture giants (I am not talking about family farms) benefit from 68 Billion Dollars per year in direct pay agriculture subsidies and insurance subsidies. Quadruple that if you include corporate tax relief. Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Monsanto, Sygenta, Dow Agro, Dupont, Bayer, BASF, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Bunge, PotashCorp, Cargill, Wilmar, and Kraft (Mondelēz International).

    Corporations produce commodities at costs BELOW actual cost of production (taxpayers are paying the actual cost) . Subsidies affect grain commodities, dairy, meat and poultry - WORLDWIDE - The US government pays Billion$ in taxpayer support to GUARANTEE corporate return on investment by "locking-in" price targets --- result??? Magnificent Profits. Nothing free about this market. NO WELFARE QUEENS IN THE WORLD LIKE THESE WELFARE QUEENS.

    There has never been a time when farm commodities were so profitable and when companies producing grains, beef, pork, poultry were so richly rewarded by taxpayers in the marketplace. The wealthier they are, the bigger their welfare payments.

    Seed, fertilizer, pesticides, transportation, warehousing, monopoly of market share; influential lobbying and campaign finance - Corporate Agriculture and industries surrounding them (including banking/finance, equipment, pesticide, petroleum products, and insurance - and Congressional Representatives) are reaping the taxpayer windfall.

    Conglomerates are BIGGER. Companies like Monsanto CONTROL seed distribution - Farmers were told if they refuse to purchase seed from Monsanto, in a few years they will not be able to obtain seed. Farmers were sued for saving their "Non Monsanto" crop seeds because Monsanto can always demonstrate that saved-seed contains a pct. of Monsanto's genetically modified seeds -- genetic material which is unavoidably getting into places it was never invited. When that happens, Monsanto goes in and plants their Balboa / Vasco Da Gama Flags, claiming ownership for their queen. If you do not cooperate, they will sue you into the stone age; their gene patents are sacred in court; as if God Almighty were dropping Monsanto seeds from the clouds, and woe unto those who don't want the seeds on their land.

    Food stamps? We're missing the real picture
  6. Restore_the_Republic
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    Restore_the_Republic - November 14, 2013 7:25 pm
    Get a job, thief.
  7. Restore_the_Republic
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    Restore_the_Republic - November 14, 2013 7:24 pm
    ...and Stampers are so obese.
  8. Buttebacker
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    Buttebacker - November 14, 2013 5:14 pm
    No more food stamps. Minimum low fat rations based on need distribute by churches. Only.
  9. juanajob
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    juanajob - November 14, 2013 3:30 pm
    Limit to Only seniors over eighty and young kids under 7. Let the churches feed the rest if they want.
  10. wl0414
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    wl0414 - November 14, 2013 2:29 pm
    Should we roll back the child labor laws and put kids back to work or maybe grandpa and grandma can get other job besides door greeter at Wal-Mart so your taxes will go down?
    69 percent of food stamp recipients are children, elderly and disabled persons.
    6.7 percent of all participants are elderly (age 60 or over).
  11. wl0414
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    wl0414 - November 14, 2013 2:17 pm
    National defense budget for the U.S. 682 billion the next 10 countries put together 652 billion. We pay for the defense of the western world.
    Total federal spending on the SNAP program will peak in 2013 at $82 billion.

  12. icesk8er
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    icesk8er - November 14, 2013 9:03 am
    WOW thats alotta eating! Jeez no wonder why taxpayers are broke!
  13. icesk8er
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    icesk8er - November 14, 2013 8:58 am
    The problem is we cant afford to pay for these peoples food. I dont think a little increase it going to kill you. Ever think of forking out your money to pay for the percentage your losing? Or would that interfere with booze, cigs or drugs? Taxpayers need a break.Ever think we struggle too? Give me a break. 1 job not enough, get 2. Go to school... you'll get that free too!
  14. wl0414
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    wl0414 - November 14, 2013 7:55 am
    Do you feed your family for $5.56 per person per day? If you are you are the exception
  15. Drifter
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    Drifter - November 14, 2013 5:21 am
    "Don't think you are invincible, something could happen to your blissful life and you too may need the SNAP Program."

    Indeed. Then we shall see if they still believe they too are stealing from the taxpayers.

    "All told, 45.7 percent of students in Butte school district schools qualify for free and reduced lunches, Harrison added."

    That is the real tragedy. One supposes though that some that comment on these stories think these children are also stealing from taxpayers.

  16. Restore_the_Republic
    Report Abuse
    Restore_the_Republic - November 13, 2013 10:53 pm
    Have you ever considered that you might have to leave Butte and look for work elsewhere? People like you only know lies and excuses. Get a job. And you might have to go elsewhere to do it. Wake up and quit stealing money from me and my family.
  17. Curlew
    Report Abuse
    Curlew - November 13, 2013 10:00 pm
    ...So where are these >Living Wage <jobs you Trolls speak of??
    Certainty Not Here! You Trolls just witnessed 26 good paying jobs just evaporate in to thin air and how many of the 26 will wind up on the SNAP program.

    A lot of you say "Get A Job", OK, Where would that be, Here??
    One post totaled up the loss of jobs in one month as 1.3 million from the economy per year from BSB.
    You know BSButte is already considered the "Pyongyang" of Montana and with some of the attitudes of some of the people here, that won't change soon. Don't think you are invincible, something could happen to your blissful life and you too may need the SNAP Program.

    Butte had better make some changes quick, losing good jobs like REC and others may become the Norm here in Pyongyang Montana and Low wage jobs won't sustain a family
    now days!
  18. taxpayer
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    taxpayer - November 13, 2013 8:50 pm
    The working people cannot afford half of what a family of four get from the tax payers. There are 75 percent of the people on welfare that don't need to be receiving food stamps etc. They are more able to work than a lot of us taxpayer's. It's the children that go without as the parent's sell their stamps etc on gambling smoking and drugs. There should be restrictions on what they can purchase. The bottom line is get a job.
  19. Buttebacker
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    Buttebacker - November 13, 2013 5:56 pm
    Way to high an estimate should be about one half

  20. wl0414
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    wl0414 - November 13, 2013 4:54 pm
    The USDA estimates the average family of four spends between $874.70 and
    $1041.90 a month on food. At $668 a month for a family of four is only spending $5.56
    a day per person.
  21. dancergirl
    Report Abuse
    dancergirl - November 13, 2013 12:56 pm
    I totally agree with anaconda007!!! My husband and I both work full time and there is no way we can afford $600 a month for food. But I can tell you, I've seen what some people on food stamps buy and they are definitely eating WAY better than I am. They are buying expensive meat and I've even seen some buy seafood.. We buy hamburger and chicken. I really think the government should put a limit on what they can buy. You can still eat healthy with limitations!
  22. juanajob
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    juanajob - November 13, 2013 12:32 pm
    Right on. Just go to the Safeway and watch the capable scamming us tax payers

  23. anaconda007
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    anaconda007 - November 13, 2013 12:24 pm
    I agree with the purchase of "junk food" should NOT be allowed. .. But also the amount these people receive. I have a family of four. My husband and I both work full time and do not have the over 600.00 to spend on groceries! We eat healthy and occasionally buy junk food but we work for what we have. People need to consider also that all these kids that are on the snap program more than likely receive free lunch with no reduction in food stamps! People just have the attitude that they are entitled to more and more. Something is broken if you have more food money when you don't work than if you work your butt off and have less.
  24. eandyj007
    Report Abuse
    eandyj007 - November 13, 2013 11:37 am
    Folks forget all the welfare programs were ramped up as part of obama's re-election campaign. As one world famous radio commentator says, " when you subsidize something you get more of it", and that is what we are seeing now. Really! A 5.5% cut is a problem? Get serious! I think these folks would derive more pride out of pulling their own weight, making their own way, than making a life of mooching off family, friends, and neighbors.
  25. Restore_the_Republic
    Report Abuse
    Restore_the_Republic - November 13, 2013 10:40 am
    I back Buttebacker. Hit the nail on the head. This program is for the elderly and the handicap. For all of you middle-age Stampers who've grown accustomed to handouts, it's time to get off your butt and start working. And I said working, not robbing. I suggest you do this sooner rather than later. Don't say we didn't warn you. I, for one, have absolutely no sympathy for any of you who are capable of working but just don't have the incentive to do so. I sincerely hope that survival of the fittest comes into play here, because I'm growing more Darwinian by the day. Does that mean I could watch you starve to death? Yes.
  26. Pseudo-Nihilist
    Report Abuse
    Pseudo-Nihilist - November 13, 2013 9:32 am
    Go stand in line at the store and watch what people buy with their SNAP card.
  27. BEUT
    Report Abuse
    BEUT - November 13, 2013 9:08 am
    I can tell you that poverty and hunger are the greatest barriers to education. Critics of government support agencies for the needy always point to abuses similar to those outlined by Buttebacker. It takes a special breed to deny kids especially when you try to justify it with unsubstantiated claims of junk food purchases.
  28. wowzer
    Report Abuse
    wowzer - November 13, 2013 8:41 am
    Buttebacker I do agree about the junk food but when the gov gives them their money the junk food is cheaper than good food so if you are on a tight budget and needing to feed your family which would you choose the food that will get you thru a half a month or the food that will get you thru the full month? What needs to happen is the gov't needs to find a way to make health food more affordable
  29. Buttebacker
    Report Abuse
    Buttebacker - November 13, 2013 6:49 am
    Take a look at what' Stampers buy? Junk food mostly, There need to be More cuts and limit to only needy elderly and handicap, limit to food items with lean milk, lean meats, low cal canned foods vegetables

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