Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON - About 5,000 troops are among those affected by cuts to the federal food stamp program, according to the Pentagon.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), better known as food stamps, is reducing benefits to about 47 million Americans. The benefit had been bolstered in 2009 by President Obama's stimulus bill, which is ending. Congress' failure to pass another farm bill has also chipped away at the benefit.
For the military, the benefit goes primarily to young troops with families. For example, an Army private with no dependents and fewer than two years experience is paid $40,400, including allowances for housing and food. That soldier does not pay taxes on the food and housing stipends.
Troops who continue to serve quickly earn enough to avoid food stamps, said Lt. Cdr. Nate Christensen, a Pentagon spokesman. Their first promotion, for instance, earns them about $2,200 more per year in base pay. Officers' compensation grows fast, too. An Army captain with six years of experience and no dependents earns about $93,800 in pay and benefits.
Under the program, a family of four that gets $668 per month in benefits will find that amount cut by $36. In 2012, the average monthly benefit per household for the 50 states and the District of Columbia was $278, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.