Friday, November 29, 2013

Food stamp cuts hit hard this Thanksgiving

English: Logo of the .
"When you cut back on the amount of food you can get through food stamps, they come to us," says Carol Schneider of the New York City food bank -- the nation's largest. It provides 400,000 meals per day that are distributed through non-profits and schools around the city.

Her agency is "already experiencing longer lines [and] more people" looking for help.

"The food stamp cuts that came down November 1 took 76 million meals out of the New York City economy alone," she said.

"I'm not having Thanksgiving this year," says Sandy Lanzieri. She and her two sons rely on food banks to supplement their food stamp allowance. "Now the money ends even faster so I'm going to have to figure out how to make up for it," she said.

Jeff Kleen, a public policy advocate at the Oregon Food Bank, says her story isn't unique.

"The cut places an additional burden on households that are trying to stretch already thin budgets," he said. Even if he had the funding, the Oregon Food Bank doesn't have the infrastructure -- including distribution trucks and warehouses -- to make up for the $84 million in cuts to SNAP in Oregon.

"This is a time when households are stretched even further by higher utility costs, the holidays, and a break in school," he said. "Those are a lot of meals to make up at home."

SNAP is meant to be supplemental and not families' sole source of food. Those who do rely on the program find their benefits run out in the second or third week of the month, food bank coordinators said.

That makes the need especially great at Thanksgiving and food pantries "like to do a little bit more for the families they're serving" this time of year, said Greg Higgerson of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.

He says the need at his mobile pantries and their affiliates "had kind of stabilized but has really picked back up again" in the past few weeks. Read more >>

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