MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Starting Friday, thousands of Minnesotans using food stamps will have a lot less money to purchase food as billions of dollars are being cut from the Federal Food Assistance Program.

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This is the first across-the-board reduction ever for the program.

In 2009, Congress included additional funding for the program in a stimulus bill, but that has now expired, which means a $5 billion cut in food stamp benefits nationwide.

Nationwide, the cuts will impact 47 million people. In Minnesota, the number will be just over 550,000.

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The impact of the cuts varies depending on the circumstance of the household. On average, it will be about a 7 percent drop. For a family of four, it will mean about $36 less a month to put food on the table.

And this may just be the beginning of the cuts. Just this week, U.S. House and Senate negotiators started working on the farm bill, which funds food stamps.

The House wants to cut the $80 billion food assistance program by another $4 billion a year. The Senate bill would cut it by less — about $500 million a year.

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Experts say many families will have to rely on much more on food banks, which means they will start seeing a higher demand for donations.