Thanksgiving is coming up just as the effects of a recent food stamp reduction hit struggling families hard. Benefits were cut on November 1, which means people are running out of food even earlier in the month than they did previously. And that means they're turning to food pantries, which are doing everything they can to help but won't be able to make up the difference. In Augusta, Georgia, for instance:
“We are beginning to hear from our pantries that they are beginning to see an increase in the number of families and individuals they are seeing each week and month,” said Travis McNeal, the executive director of Golden Harvest Food Bank.In Santa Fe, New Mexico, where one food pantry has already served 11.5 percent more households than at this time last year:
Golden Harvest serves more than 300 food pantries, churches and social service agencies in 30 counties in Georgia and South Carolina. In the 19 Georgia counties it serves, the food stamps cuts amount to $15.9 million, McNeal said. Richmond County food stamp recipients lost $6.8 million.
The Downtown Cooperative Church Ministries, a mission of several local churches, will try to apply for more grant money to make up for the extra food supplies needed, said director Christy Cunningham.
Even as greater demand is anticipated, Santa Fe’s biggest food pantry, Food for Santa Fe, has had to reduce the bags of groceries it distributes at 1222 Siler Road from 900 to 600 per week, according to Susan Odiseos, board president. That cutback occurred in mid-September to keep the program from operating in the red—a situation that develops partly due to the fact that the bulk of monetary donations come in November and December, she noted.In New York City:
"There's a whole lot of struggling going on," said Mary, who waited in line for her turn at the food pantry housed in the Beulah Church of the Nazarene. Mary receives food stamps, which have been cut recently. "They cut my food stamps. How do they expect us to make it when we don't get food stamps?"According to Bradley Backus, the food pantry's director, "The cut in SNAP benefits has had a tremendous impact." Meanwhile, the House and Senate are trying to agree on how much to cut from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, with proposals on the table that could kick millions of people out of the program altogether. Happy Thanksgiving!