HATFIELD, Mass (WGGB) — Thousands of local families will soon have to find new ways to put food on their table. A $5 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, will take effect this Friday.
Now, local food pantries are searching for other ways to feed the hungry. When the great recession hit a few years ago, stimulus money helped keep food on the shelves at the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. The problem: it’s that very money for the federal food stamp program that will run out November 1st.
“We’ve been trying really hard to get the word out to families who are currently receiving SNAP so they are not taken by surprise when it happens and there is a lot of confusion and concern on those folks part,” Director of Programs Christina Maxwell said.
It’s estimated single SNAP clients will lose $11 per month and a family of four will lose about $36 per month.
“You can buy a good amount of food for $36 so that will be perhaps a quarter of their benefit that they will be losing and that’s a pretty big bite out of their monthly food budget,” Maxwell said.
Maxwell adds that because of the cuts, more families will start relying on local pantries that her operation supplies. Plus, with heating bills and holidays, the food bank already sees an increased demand during the winter months. Maxwell predicts this latest SNAP cut will be an added challenge. That’s why the food bank is asking legislators to not approve any other proposed cuts to the program.
“This cut is a done deal, there’s nothing more to be done about it but the cuts that are being discussed in the house and the senate are not finalized yet and they will be devastating if they come through so we are really reaching out to the public to help us make that argument,” Maxwell said.
In the meantime, Maxwell says they’re trying to make the most of food they still have before the holidays. If you’d like to help, every dollar donated to the food bank creates $9 worth of food and they are in desperate need of donations.
Just head to http://www.foodbankwma.org/ to learn how to donate.