9 months, 4 weeks ago by Ben Yount, Illinois Watchdog
Benefits for family of four in Illinois could decrease by $36 a month
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Illinois is reducing EBT payments for two million families in Illinois who get the assistance, but the smaller benefits are neither a surprise nor a problem.
Benefits for family of four in Illinois could decrease by $36 a month, she said.
But the family won’t go hungry, still getting more than $600 each month to spend on groceries. The maximum food stamp benefit for a family of four is set to slide from $668 to $632, each month.
McKenzie Riley, a nutritionist with the University of Illinois Extension office, said that’s well above an average monthly allowance for food.
“A lot of places, (the average) is $100 per person, per month,” Riley said. “Depending of course … on what your household is made up of.”
Riley says it will cost a little more to feed two teenagers than to feed two children younger than 5.
Illinois’ average food stamp family — a parent and a child — gets $367 a month for groceries, but that falls to $347 Friday.
Cook your own food and do a little bargain shopping, and that should be plenty, Riley says.
“A lot of convenience foods are more expensive in the long run, per serving, than something that takes a little time to prepare,” Riley said.
A competent cook can transform one rotisserie chicken into two, even three meals.
Frozen dinners, Riley said, comprise a single meal.
Families have known for a while these reductions were coming, said U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, a Republican from the 13th District who sits on the congressional committee responsible for food stamp spending.
“We have to put a long-term strategy together that is going to reform our (food-stamp) program,” Davis told Illinois Watchdog. “Making sure that able-bodied adults with no dependent children who are not in school get a job … That they may have to actually work, or do volunteer service, or community service to get those benefits.”
Davis said adding a work component to food stamps would lower costs and ensure help for people who truly need it.
Illinois has seen a huge increase in the number of people receiving food stamps.
The Illinois Policy Institute says 200,000 new people signed up for benefits in 2012, and more than a million Illinoisans have joined the food-stamp rolls over the past decade.