SIOUX FALLS, SD -
Things just got a lot tighter today for many families. A cut to the food stamp program means a family of four has $36 less to spend on food every month and an individual has $11 less per month. While that may not sound like a lot, it adds up to $16 billion less that Americans have to spend on food over the next three years. That will have an effect on the entire economy.
It's brisk business at the grocery store as people fill their carts. But a more than five percent cut to the food stamp program will mean less money at the checkout.
"I think anytime you take money like that out of the economy, there is going to be a ripple effect of some kind," Bob Trader of Hy-Vee Said.
A big ripple for the grocery store industry; some $16 billion over the next three years that won't be spent by low income shoppers on food. 13 percent of the population in South Dakota, or more than 104,000 people are on food stamps.
The cut has some stores adjusting their sales forecasts for the remainder of the year.
"It is going to be funds missing out of the system, but there are also funds elsewhere that are coming into the system that will help alleviate some of that," Trader said.
Retailers are hoping that now that the price of gasoline, which eats up much of a family's budget, has dropped below $3 a gallon, which will free up more money to spend at the grocery store.
Retail giant Walmart has said its market share could actually rise as people with less to spend look for the lowest prices. But Hy-Vee says the grocery market is already very competitive.
"I think day in and day out, the grocery industry is battling for market share all the time," Trader said.
Hy-Vee plans to offer the services of its in-store dieticians who can help shoppers using food stamps find the most nutritional foods for the lowest price.
A bill from the House proposes to cut an additional $4 billion from the food stamp program under the farm bill.
The program costs $80 billion a year, which has more than doubled over the last five years.
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