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Food stamp cuts force food banks to bear hunger problems

7:13 PM, Dec 3, 2013   |    comments
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SACRAMENTO - It's been a month now since deep cuts to the food stamp Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) went into affect across the United States.

Congress cut $5 billion in the cost-saving move.

Now, food banks say they are are now shouldering more of the weight of hunger problems.

"It hasn't been good," said Brenda Lebrane, a client at the River City Food Bank. "I've just barely been making it."

Up until the federal cuts, Brenda was able to use food stamps, spending about $200 every month on groceries.

Now she has $40 or $50 to spend and supplements that at area food banks.

It's a story CalFresh coordinator Amy Dierlam hears every day.

"When it comes to the last week or so of the month, there's no funds," she says. "Tthey have to rely on places like this."

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 48 million Americans receive some sort of food stamp assistance every year.

California lost $457 million, which means about 2.3 million children are affected as well as 154,000 thousand elderly and disabled.

"I don't think they realize the impact these cuts have on the American people," said Lisa Davis with Feeding America, an unofficial umbrella for food banks across the country.

Her greatest fear is that Congress is currently contemplating more cuts while it debates the Farm Bill. Republicans are recommending as much as $40 billion in cuts.

It's possible, with the increased need, food banks could eventually run out of food, 

"It's really possible," Davis said. "We simply will not be able to fill the gap of those lost meals if (funds) are cut."

Unless donations or funding increases, people like Brenda Lebrane could be in trouble again.

"I wouldn't make it. I would starve without the food bank," Lebrane said. "The beans, the rice, the noodles -- I just wouldn't make it."

By Nick Monacelli,


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