Hurting the economy in a SNAP

This morning 875,000 South Carolinians woke up to something other than an earlier sunrise than they had last week.  They woke up to having less food to eat every month.  SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program formerly known at food stamps) saw an automatic cut on Friday because of the inability for Congress to get its act together to continue a slightly higher level of benefits enacted in 2009.

So now a family of four that qualifies economically for SNAP will have the equivalent of 21 fewer meals per month.  Most of the Americans helped with purchasing nutritional meals are children.  However there will also be 30,000 hungrier vets in South Carolina on SNAP. 

But if you don’t think this SNAP reduction affects you, you’re wrong.  Anytime you take money from Main Street you hurt local economies.  Since SNAP funds are used to buy food, nationwide that is a $5 billion loss to retailers and to our agriculture industry.  For South Carolina that is a $93 million direct loss to the economy.  But it’s more than that because it doesn’t count the churning effect of money.

We always encourage people to buy local because for every one dollar you spend in a locally-owned store you get three times the economic benefit for your local economy.  Well, the reverse is the same.  While not all of the $93 million is spent in South Carolina buying food from locally-owned stores, certainly a large percentage is given the rural nature of our state.  So that $93 million could mean as high as a $270 million loss to our small businesses if SNAP recipients are forced to cut back on buying food or cut their other spending on Main Street in order to try to put food in their stomachs.

So if you don’t care about having more hungry children and vets in South Carolina and the nation, you should still be concerned about the impact of SNAP reductions on our economy. 

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