During the recent recession, the government pushed more money into the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to support the growing number of Americans who need help putting food on the table. Now, that extra funding is about to expire and that means Arkansans will have to find another way to make grocery dollars stretch.
Nikita Ross has been bagging groceries at the Argenta Market for a couple months, and more often than he expected, he's checking folks out who pay with an EBT card.
"On a daily basis, I'm surprised at how many people use the SNAP program in order to make purchases, whether it be produce or regular store items," said Ross. About half a million Arkansans use SNAP and starting Friday, every one of them will have to cut their grocery budget.
"We have told our beneficiaries that we anticipate about a $10 a month per person reduction," said Amy Webb of the Dept. Of Human Services.
That may not sound like a lot, but on average an individual gets $121 each month to help pay for food. That's only $4 per day or $1.30 per meal. Taking $10 from that is equivalent to 2.5 days worth of food.
"They'll probably turn to their local food banks or churches or other resources to try to make up for that cost," said Webb.
Others may opt instead for processed, cheaper food, cutting back on the veggies and healthy options they would normally pick up at the Argenta Market. That's a concern for a population of folks at higher risk of diabetes and obesity.