Wilson Sayre / WLRN

For the past year, Lucy Perry and her longtime boyfriend William Royal have lived beneath a traffic sign on the sidewalk along Southwest Second Street under I-95. With about four dozen other homeless people, they wait for a church group to come by and hand out styrofoam containers of food.


Perry, Royal and many others out on the street are among the 350,000 people who lost their food stamps this year because of new state rules that adults without children who can work must work in order to get the monthly assistance.


Sammy Mack / WLRN

Back when Laura Rollins first used food stamps for her family—more than two decades ago—she was sometimes embarrassed to use her  stamps at the grocery store.

“When we used to have those books of food stamps that you know that to me was embarrassing because that was telling everybody that was around me and letting them know that, ‘oh, she’s poor,’” Rollins recalls.

Rollins is nearly 64 years old and lives in Fort Lauderdale. Her three boys are grown. She works part time at MacDonald’s and takes care of her great-grandbabies a couple of days a week.

Cuts to food stamps for over 3.5 million Floridians went into effect Friday, Nov. 1. And more could be coming through the pipeline soon.

Increases in food stamps, which are part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), were approved as part of the 2009 Recovery Act’s temporary boost to the economy. And those increases have run out.

For a family of four, the cuts translate to $36 per month or a total loss of $396 per year. Cuts to benefits in Florida are the third largest.