Puerto Rico has started cutting benefits paid out by a food stamps program used by more than 1 million of its residents, as federal lawmakers have not provided the island with additional emergency disaster funding amid opposition from the Trump administration.
On Monday, Puerto Rico started reducing food stamp benefits by an average of 25 percent as part of an effort to sustain a program that has seen a dramatic increase in demand in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in 2017, said a spokesman for Puerto Rico’s Department of Family Affairs.
The food stamp benefit is distributed monthly to about 1.3 million of its residents, or 43 percent of those living on the island, the spokesman said. The reductions bring the benefit levels back to where they were before the hurricane.
The benefit cut, caused by an impasse among federal lawmakers over aid funding for the U.S. territory, has sparked new fears among Puerto Ricans about a critical lifeline for poorer residents amid an explosion of hunger since the hurricane hit.