By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Recipients of the federal food assistance program known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) will see their benefits reduced, starting Friday, because stimulus funding that bolstered monthly payments is ending.

And it could be a preview of more cuts to come.

“When you don’t make enough money even to pay the bills, it’s something you can rely on; it helps out as a crutch, “says Jay, an underemployed actuary who graduated college in 2010 — a tough year.

He figures he’s contacted more than 30 employers but has gotten only temporary work so far.

His wife is a server at a center city Philadelphia restaurant, and to make ends meet for them and their baby, they get $180 per month in SNAP benefits.  But that is about to go down to $150 per month.

“We’re behind on rent and bills this month already, and there’s just not much money left over for food,” he said today.

Anti-hunger groups in the area say this is typical of the situation of SNAP recipients, and they have little hope it will get better.

The federal government put an additional $5 billion into SNAP to help low earners get through the worst recession since the Great Depression.

Ronna Bolante of the Coalition Against Hunger says that extra boost is ending this week even though many of the recipients have not shared in the economic recovery.

“This is the first time in the history of the SNAP program that all 47 million Americans who receive SNAP will see their benefits drop practically overnight,” she said today.

And now the US House has passed a bill cutting $40 billion from the program over the next ten years.

“It just makes my life a little more difficult,” said Jay, adding, “If they think they’re going to pay back their $17 trillion (federal deficit) by cutting people’s food stamps, they’ve got a long way to go.”