Federal Food Stamp Cuts, Affect Food Banks
GAINESVILLE - Many families in North Central Florida have a little less money in their pockets tonight. An across the board cut of the federal food stamp program went into effect November 1st. More than 41,000 people in Alachua County alone receive these benefits. Agencies that support them say it’s going to make putting food on the table a lot harder.
Bonnie Hummel with Feed my Sheep said, "Everybody's one paycheck away from being homeless." And one step closer to toeing the poverty line and getting visits from agencies like the one her and her husband Doug Hummel run, Feed My Sheep.
"The number of people receiving food stamp benefits in the state of Florida is 3.6 million people, that number has actually remained pretty consistent over the past few years, the big increase that we saw was actually back in the late 2000's at the height of the recession," John Harrell with the Department of Children and Family said.
It was right around that time, SNAP or supplemental nutrition assistance program benefits increased due to the 2009 stimulus act. Congress passed the law to help expand unemployment and welfare programs.
"Well if it wasn't for the Bread of the Mighty we could not operate because this is where our stuff comes from, we're on a retired fixed income raising 3 grandkids there's no way that we can get this food on our own for these people," Hummel said.
Harrell expects that as the economy and unemployment rates improve, the number of people receiving food stamp benefits should go down. "The key thing that we want to remind everybody is that the food stamp program is meant to be a temporary program, meant to help people get back on their feet, it's meant to not completely replace all income but meant to make up the difference as far as income loss," Harrell said.
Benefits for a family of 4 with no income will decrease by $36 to $632 a month with the new change. Hummel says that those dollars mean a lot more than you may think to a struggling a family. "May mean there's no meat on their table maybe they can buy canned stuff and stuff like that but anybody that's looked at the price of meat in the store knows that thirty dollars could buy a lot," Hummel said.
No matter what the changes may be, Hummel says she will still go wherever there are hungry people.
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