SEATTLE -- More than a million Washington residents will see a reduction in their food stamp benefits starting on Friday.

The 2009 economic stimulus bill temporarily boosted the federal food stamp program for its 47 million recipients nationwide. The boosted benefits expire at midnight Thursday, resulting in automatic 5.5 percent cuts to monthly distributions.

A family of three receiving the maximum benefit amount will see a reduction of $29 a month from $526 to $497, according to the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services.

Sara Hoikkala, a Seattle mother of two battling Crohn's Disease, said her benefits will be reduced to $375 a month.

We will have to make things stretch a bit further, said Hoikkala.

Thursday night, she was at the Family Works Resource Center and Food Bank in Wallingford stocking up on fruits, vegetables, and chicken as a way to help deal with the reduction in benefits.

Michael Disney works at the food bank, and expects the food stamp cuts to cause a ripple effect.

I think we are going to be busier, and this is really a busy time of year, said Disney.

Linda Stone, Food Policy Director at Children s Alliance in Seattle, says the cuts will run deep.

Food is security for a child, she said. Without food in the refrigerator, they can t do well in school. They are not developing relationships as well because their mind is somewhere else.

Stone says although the cuts were always intended to be temporary, they come too early.

There are families that have not bounced back, and probably won t bounce back, because our economy is based on part time work and lower wage job, said Stone.

DSHS recommends families in need of help, find food bank information here.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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