But if conservative Republicans in Congress get their way, this week's pullback may be just a taste of what's to come for some of the almost 48 million Americans who receive benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
SNAP, the largest U.S. anti-hunger program, is designed to help poor people - most of them children, disabled or elderly - buy food. But enrollment has doubled and the program's cost has nearly tripled since 2004, and has remained at record levels even as the economy improves and unemployment declines.
Critics say the surge shows reform is vital as part of federal deficit reduction. Defenders say the high enrollment is a sign of the weak recovery from the 2008-09 recession and sluggish job growth.
The cuts on Friday reflect the expiration of benefits authorized by the 2009 economic stimulus package, just as other temporary elements of the package - including a two-year payroll tax "holiday" - have ended over time. Read more >>