From Illinois Public Radio - News -

Pantries, Shelters Feeling Pinch Of Food Stamp Cut

Greater Chicago Food Depository

Mary Tock checks for peanut products at the Greater Chicago Food Depository, the city's clearinghouse for nearly 600 local food banks, in Chicago, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2009. (Paul Beaty/AP)

Food pantries and homeless shelters say they are beginning to notice repercussions of a reduction in food stamps that will take effect Friday, Nov. 1. A temporary hike in benefits that kicked in during the recession expires this week. 

Individuals who get support from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) could see their benefits cut by $11 a month.  A family of four could see a decrease of $36.

"This is going to affect our population big time,” said Rod Lane, the director of Helping Hands in Springfield, which focuses on helping people get out of poverty.

Helping Hands runs a homeless shelter, and offers other services, like budgeting support and how to stretch a dollar.

Lane said his clients are worried about how they are going to make due.

"I'm more so concerned about the ones that are not in my shelter,” he said. “I say that because the ones in our shelter make their way over to the breadline to eat each day. And we serve a hot meal every night. So I'm not concerned about them being provided for. I'm concerned about my individuals that are not able to get to the breadline each day and are cooking for themselves."

Lane said the agency is going to teach classes on how to make meals using cheaper ingredients, and is going to start a small pantry.

Jim Conwell, a spokesman for the Greater Chicago Food Depository, said there has been record need in recent years.

"This automatic reduction will make it harder for families who are on SNAP to put food on the table,” Cronwell said. “And many will have to turn to pantries, soup kitchens and shelters that might not have before."

Conwell said the cuts to the food stamp program makes it all the more important SNAP be part of negotiations as Congress reignites debate on a new Farm Bill.

Categories: Agriculture, Food, Health