Millions of American food stamp recipients saw their benefits cut on Friday as a scheduled across-the-board reduction was allowed to go into effect.

Both the House and Senate were out of town as the nation went over the so-called “food stamp cliff.”

The cut to the benefits of an estimated 47 million recipients came as a result of the Nov. 1 expiration of provisions in the 2009 Obama stimulus law that temporarily boosted benefits.

Food stamps are being cut by $5 billion this year and a total of $11 billion over the next three years.

An individual receiving the maximum monthly benefits of $189 under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will see an $11 cut while a family of four will see $36 taken out of their monthly benefits. Under the Agriculture Department’s often-criticized method for calculating food costs, this means 20 fewer meals for that family this month.

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