Steven Bridges / for NBC News
Cheyenne Phillips, 17, Angela Phillips, 44, and Cassidy Phillips, 14, stand outside their home in Knoxville, TN. Phillips is a divorced mom that shares joint custody of three kids with their dad. She was on food stamps from from July 2012 to February 2013, and will be applying for the benefit again on Monday because her temp job is ended on Friday.
Photo by Steven Bridges
By Allison Linn, CNBC Digital
Millions of American families could face a sparse holiday table when food stamps benefits get reduced in November, and that could be just the start of deeper cuts to the program to feed poor families.
The modern-day food stamp plan, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is scheduled to scale back benefits for all recipients on Nov. 1 because a recession-era boost in benefits is expiring.
The cut comes as lawmakers also are considering billions of dollars of reductions to the overall SNAP program, which has grown substantially in recent years amid the weak economy and high unemployment.
The program is now serving more than 23 million households, or nearly 48 million people, according to the most recent government data through June. The USDA says the average monthly benefit is about $275 per household.
The exact reduction depends on the recipients’ situation, but a family of four with no other changes in circumstances will receive $36 less per month, according to the USDA. At today's average prices, that translates to four fewer whole chickens each month.