Cuts to food stamp benefits hit home in Abilene

Reduction in food stamp benefits worries Big Country food banks

ABILENE, Texas - Approximately 47 million Americans on food stamps are now facing major cuts to their benefits.

In 2009, U.S. Congress boosted the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for temporary increases in benefits to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program. However, that boost expired Friday for all recipients.

Joy Fincher, director of programs and agency relations for the Food Bank of West Central Texas, said representatives of local food pantries who serve single-parent families and senior citizens are especially worried about the benefit cuts. The bank provides food to area non-profits that in turn serve struggling families.

"We're very concerned about how it's going to affect, you know, everyone that needs food," Fincher said. "We're concerned about our food pantries—it's already going to put a strain on their tight budgets and, you know, their increase in demand—they may be seeing more people coming in this month."

According to Feeding America statistics, a family of four that received $668 per month will suffer a monthly cut of $36 to their maximum benefits. For an entire year, that cut means $432 less to spend on food. For a household of just one, the annual cut amounts to $132.

"Households that are already food insecure—where they're not receiving enough food in the household — this will just add to their stress of trying to feed their children and providing meals on the table at dinner time," Fincher said.

For fiscal year 2014, Feeding America predicts Texas will see $411 million SNAP benefit cuts — affecting nearly 4 million Texans.

Fincher said families in need can call the food bank at (325)  695-6311 or call 211 for information on which food pantries are open on a given day. She said the pantry is always in need of donations of canned meat, canned vegetables, pasta and peanut butter. For information on how to donate, click here.

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