Food Stamp Cuts Will Mean Higher Need At Local Food Banks - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Food Stamp Cuts Will Mean Higher Need At Local Food Banks

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November 1st, benefits for 47 million Americans dropped back to 2009 levels because a temporary funding boost for the federal program has run out. The cuts mean local food banks, like 2nd Harvest, are anticipating more people coming to them needing food for their families this winter.

The cuts just went into effect last Friday, so it is too early to see the direct impacts. However, when families start getting less money each month, places like 2nd harvest expect to be extremely busy.

"We fully anticipate that these food stamp cuts will mean that people who have been able to make ends meet, who have been able to put enough food on the table with the food stamps they have had, may not be able to now," said Melissa Cloninger of 2nd Harvest. "That will mean longer lines at the neighborhood food banks that we serve and consequently will mean greater need."

The increase to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program or "snap" was always a temporary boost to benefits, so the cuts to food stamps is not a surprise. However, because of the slow economic recovery and the lack of available jobs, many say these cuts are coming too soon.

According to 2nd Harvest, there is usually at least one person in the home who is employed, but it is still not enough money to put food on the table. 2nd harvest also says there is an increase in need during this time of year because the cold weather makes things like utility bills more expensive, leaving less money for groceries.

With the new cuts a family of four will see about a $36 decrease in benefits each month. That translates into about 20 meals less a month, which will make the need at food banks even higher than it already is.

"We're now seeing an unprecedented level of need twelve months out of the year," Cloninger said. "We also see a spike this time of year and the other months out of the year we are still seeing a need that we have not seen in 42 years."

The cuts just went into effect on November 1st, so the food banks think they will start to see the ripple effects of those by December. The only real fix here would be to re-instate the supplemental boost, but right now there are not plans to do that. Therefore, it could be a long hard winter for many people in our area.

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