Friday, 47 million Americans face benefits cuts from the food stamps program, since Congress hasn't set the federal budget yet.Siouxland News spoke with local agencies about the impact this will have on people here in Siouxland.
Some people receiving checks from SNAP worry about the quality of food they can buy, but now everyone on the program will also have to start worrying about the quantity.
"We really anticipate that families that are already struggling and are dependent upon the stamp program to help them with their monthly food needs are going to find it really difficult to adjust to a reduction," said Linda Scheid, executive director of the Food Bank of Siouxland.This change is because the 2009 stimulus bill has expired.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 boosted benefits with more money for groceries for people using SNAP, but not anymore.
Siouxland families, like those around the nation, will see 21 meals cut per month and an average of $1.40 per meal, unless Congress passes a new budget that includes increased money for the program. Changes to SNAP will mean less dollars for groceries and one place people can turn to are meal programs like the Soup Kitchen, but even those kitchens have limits. "Food is all donated so we're assuming that as long as the donations hold up we can handle the influx of additional people, if that's the case." The Food Bank of Siouxland is another outlet, but they've already had a growing need for assistance before the budget cuts.
In October month alone, the food bank hit a record high distribution of nearly 220,000 pounds of food. "Everybody is really seeing that same sort of experience where more people in need there dollar just aren't going far enough. They're working, but their salary isn't sufficient to meet all of their personal needs," said Scheid. For now, 10 to13 percent of people in the tri-state region may soon struggle to find their next meal, and with cuts looming in the farm bill battle groceries may be tougher to afford.
Congress has until the end of the year to pass a new budget that could change the fate of the food stamp program.
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