Food stamp cuts could affect local residents
Forty-eight million Americans who rely on food stamps will be getting less government help when federal stimulus funds expire.
And that could have a ripple effect on local food banks.
In the last few years, The Grace Community Foundation Food Bank on North 5th Street in Allentown has seen a spike.
"We used to serve maybe 150 to 160 families a month and we are pretty much doubled that right now," said Director Patty McNamara.
McNamara says those numbers will likely increase when stimulus money to the supplemental nutrition assistance program expires November 1st. Currently, that money provides funding for food stamps.
"And for food banks in our region it will matter. They will have to try to make up the difference and they can't," said Kathryn Hoffman, SNAP Outreach Coordinator for Second Harvest Food Bank.
Second Harvest provides food to more than 230 food banks in 6 counties.
Second Harvest officials say the cuts will not only impact the food banks, but will also affect the economy.
Hoffman says 1.8 million Pennsylvanians receive food stamps and spend them in local stores.
"If you take money from one taxpayer and give it to another and says that has an economic stimulus effect well I just don't accept that, that is not how you grow an economy," said Congressman Charlie Dent.
Dent says the number of food stamp recipients has grown from 28 to 48 million since 2007.
Dent says the stimulus was not meant to last.
He says one version of the farm bill will weed out people who shouldn't receive food stamps while protecting those who do.
He says the farm bill, which is not connected to stimulus, could also increase emergency funding to food banks.
But McNamara says she doesn't know if she will have enough to fill the gap in the wake of the food stamp cuts.
Sen. Bob Casey says he will announce legislation Friday that would extend current food stamp funding for a year.
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