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Food pantries see increase in requests after cuts to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013 8:47 PM
Last updated Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013 1:51 AM
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Jessica Smith patiently waited for the food pantry to open its doors Thursday, knowing she needs extra supplies to keep food on the table in coming weeks.

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Jessica Smith leaves with some food from the Downtown Cooperative Church Ministries food pantry.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Jessica Smith leaves with some food from the Downtown Cooperative Church Ministries food pantry.

After federal cuts to the nation’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – commonly called food stamps, Smith, of Augusta, must shop for groceries with $20 less per month to feed her and her two children.

“You have to make food stretch,” said Smith whose benefits were reduced to $347 monthly. “Some days you’ll have to just eat sandwiches. Some days you’ll have to go without eating at all.”

Reductions to food stamps might hit harder in Augusta than some cities. In Rich­mond County, 21.8 percent of families were below the poverty line and 19.2 percent received food stamps, according to 2012 U.S. Census American Community Survey 3-year estimates.

Other area counties with high poverty rates and people receiving government assistance could also be affected. In Burke County, 24.6 percent received food stamps, and 21 percent in McDuffie County. Of area counties, Aiken and Columbia counties had the lowest percentages receiving foods stamps at 15.5 and 7.1 percents, respectively.

Smith visited Augusta’s Downtown Cooperative Church Ministries, the city’s largest food pantry, for the first time this week. Many others waiting in line also turned to the food pantry for the first time having exhausted their reduced food stamps amounts or fearing they will run out before the month’s end.

On Nov. 1, millions of people across the nation began receiving fewer monthly food stamps allotments. The 2009 American Recovery and Investment Act boosted amounts to help people affected by the recession but the part of the law raising benefits ran out. Food pantries in Augusta started seeing longer lines and more requests for assistance almost immediately.

“We are beginning to hear from our pantries that they are beginning to see an increase in the number of families and individuals they are seeing each week and month,” said Travis McNeal, the executive director of Golden Harvest Food Bank.

Golden Harvest serves more than 300 food pantries, churches and social service agencies in 30 counties in Georgia and South Carolina. In the 19 Georgia counties it serves, the food stamps cuts amount to $15.9 million, McNeal said. Richmond County food stamp recipients lost $6.8 million.

The Downtown Cooperative Church Ministries, a mission of several local churches, will try to apply for more grant money to make up for the extra food supplies needed, said director Christy Cunningham.

About 90 percent of people who receive help at the downtown pantry are on food stamps, Cunningham said. It serves the first 75 needy people who line up at its door each weekday, and volunteers were forced to turn away between five and eight people each day last week.

“It puts them up against a wall, not knowing how they are going to provide the next meal,” Cunningham said.

Vicki Bukovitz, the executive director of Aiken’s Area Churches Serving Together, or ACTS, said the food stamps reductions especially hurt the elderly and families with children.

Carolyn Young, of Hephzibah, visited the food pantry Thursday for the third week in a row. Her food stamps took a big hit, dropping from $106 to $30.

“It shouldn’t have to be like this,” Young said. “People shouldn’t have to go hungry, especially the elderly and disabled.”

A BIG HELP

On Monday only, donations to Golden Harvest will be tripled by Bank of America. Donations must be between $5 and $1,000, and made by credit or debit card. Visit goldenharvest.org or call (706) 736-1199.

Comments (42) Add comment
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freeradical
1170
Points
freeradical 11/17/13 - 02:53 pm
7
3
Life In Obamaland

That's life in Obamaland for you .

Vote for another trillion dollar stimulas why don't you .

Suckers .

Cadence
219
Points
Cadence 11/17/13 - 02:59 pm
10
3
The same old questions

I have them, too. There is no reason for me to repeat them, but I believe the food stamp office should require that before the client receives the snap card they must take classes on nutrition, budgeting food, household budgets, etc. That is a tremendous amount to be given free and clear to purchase food. A family of three should be able to eat well off of that. We have created a culture of helpless, uneducated, needy citizens. Why, I do not know. It obviously serves some purpose to society to maintain adults as if they were children. To encourage women to have children who will have no father. No provider except the government.

southern2
7782
Points
southern2 11/17/13 - 03:14 pm
9
2
Problem solved!

Since so many want to live on the government plantation, let's have a real government plantation. After one year on Cadillac assistance, put all Section 8/SNAP/Medicaid participants on a 200 acre refuge equipped with cottages, fields for self planted food, livestock barns, and Goodwill vouchers good for clothing and other second hand necessities.

After daily work operations end, training programs could be held nightly by volunteers to teach the principles of self reliance and job fairs could be held monthly at the refuge for those desiring to escape the perils of cooperative living.

tcsnider
1569
Points
tcsnider 11/17/13 - 04:20 pm
12
2
Interesting observation

I want to share this unplanned experiment. We have 23 chickens that we release on our 20 country acres during the day. We had been feeding them twice a day. For some reason they always wanted to stay right around the back door and would not graze and search for food themselves like chickens should do. We decided to try reducing their feed by half. After a couple of days, we find them out in the woods finding their own food. Their egg production has not been affected, still producing great eggs. THEY DID NOT DIE. Interesting....

specsta
7137
Points
specsta 11/17/13 - 04:27 pm
4
11
Grade 2 Arithmetic

Some of you folks need to get out a calculator. $347 a month in SNAP benefits adds up to less than $4 a day each for Ms. Smith and her two children to eat. Some of you guys spend that much on one cup of coffee.

This woman is trying to survive the best way she can. Belittling her serves no purpose, other than to promote inhumanity and hatred. No one has to justify that they are worthy of eating a meal.

Until you have been in a position to need help, a person can't really know what they are talking about - can they? I have missed meals. I have suffered hunger. And it was the kindness of others that allowed me to get through those tough times.

Pops
14326
Points
Pops 11/17/13 - 04:54 pm
8
1
I would like to know more

How old are these kids......are they getting child support.....are they getting school breakfast and lunch.....is she living with her mother who is also getting SNAP....does she have plans to better herself....is there a baby daddy living there...I do not need get to get out a calculator....I can add up taxpayer's burden quite well thank you.....

KSL
143566
Points
KSL 11/17/13 - 04:53 pm
7
3
Belittling her serves a huge

Belittling her serves a huge purpose! Whatever happened to the shame of not being able to make good decisions and take care of yourself?

Specsta, do you have a lot of people in your family receiving one type or another of public assistance. You are always taking up for your so called deprived.

Tell me, why is the dad not paying his share for the children? Why do taxpayers have to pay any of the tab?

Darby
29215
Points
Darby 11/17/13 - 05:06 pm
7
3
Smith may be a good woman, but she's been "trained"

by Democrats to look to the government just to get by.

Likely, she and her entire family will be on EBT for the next ten generations because it serves the Democrat party to keep them that way.

teaparty
11313
Points
teaparty 11/17/13 - 05:07 pm
6
3
spectra said, '$347 a month
Unpublished

spectra said, '$347 a month in SNAP benefits adds up to less than $4 a day each for Ms. Smith and her two children to eat. Some of you guys spend that much on one cup of coffee.'
I don't spend $4 for a cup of coffee because I can't afford it. A family of 3 can eat ok off $347 a month if they shop wisely. The lady looks healthy in the picture but I doubt that she is looking in the want ads for work. The Great Society has created millions of slaves to the government.

teaparty
11313
Points
teaparty 11/17/13 - 05:12 pm
5
3
pops said, 'is there a baby
Unpublished

pops said, 'is there a baby daddy living there.'
I would bet there is man living there although it might not be the daddy of the children. Most likely child #4 will be a long in the future.

Pops
14326
Points
Pops 11/17/13 - 05:16 pm
8
2
These are the type questions that

I would like to see answered in an in-depth story.....not just a reporter hanging out at the food bank and writing what all the victims have to say and passing it off as the norm.....

southern2
7782
Points
southern2 11/17/13 - 05:16 pm
5
3
Tax Refunds Too

I wonder how much cash the government gives to those on assistance in the guise of a income tax refund?

I hear it is now $10,000 a year per poverty rated households. Not a bad payday for being a Democratic voter.

tcsnider
1569
Points
tcsnider 11/17/13 - 05:23 pm
10
1
$347 a month

Yep, that is about $86.75/week. Yesterday I actually spent $86.56, more than usual. I got milk, bread, chicken, pork chops, bacon, potatoes, canned tomatoes, canned peas, Starbucks coffee, buttermilk, even splurged on some chips ahoy, plus a lot of other things including nonfood items,ALL ON SALE. Yes, we will be eating high this week. The key is you have to COOK IT. Why can't the SNAP people do this? Yes, it's hard to eat at McDonalds, Pizza Hut and KFC on $12/day. BTW, I am a monthly local food pantry supporter, just not fond of the SNAP...

Pops
14326
Points
Pops 11/17/13 - 05:26 pm
8
1
I do not believe this Chronicle statement

"Reductions to food stamps might hit harder in Augusta than some cities."

Augusta is, according to some on these boards, just rolling in dough....high tech jobs......retailers falling all over each other to locate here.....this cannot be true......

dichotomy
37417
Points
dichotomy 11/17/13 - 06:01 pm
8
1
Remember how the Democrats

Remember how the Democrats howled when Obama let the temporary tax cuts for the rich expire? Well now the temporary hike in food stamps has expired.

TOUCHE

triscuit
3266
Points
triscuit 11/17/13 - 07:21 pm
8
1
I have been behind a "needy"

I have been behind a "needy" person at Kroger and watched her pay almost $100 for sushi...with an EBT card. As long as its "cold" it qualifies. Which is why the cards are also accepted at delis ...so keep on buying those high priced deli cuts of meats and cheeses that I can't afford.

kayekaye37
44
Points
kayekaye37 11/17/13 - 07:27 pm
8
1
Crazy!

$300 is more then we spend a month for my family of 3. I bet the 2 kids get FREE breakfast and lunch at school. Nothing wrong with eating a sandwich for supper. I bet that is more then some folks ate. I think they should not let you buy junk food with the snap card. If you have to be on it then you need to learn to live on a budget and use coupons and get the most for your money. I have seen it 1 to many times at the Dollar store they come in there and buy junk and use the EBT card. I can't buy junk so why should they. I mean I rather have a meal to eat then buy junk that is not good for you. I do believe that if you have been on SNAP for more them 2 yrs you need to be cut off. Learn to use it right and the $300 a month will last you. It does my family. I also believe that any senior should get at least $100 a month just cause. They can't work were as most of the younger ones can and won't. Better yet just give us all a EBT each month!!!!!

teaparty
11313
Points
teaparty 11/17/13 - 08:08 pm
4
1
spectra said, '$347 a month
Unpublished

spectra said, '$347 a month in SNAP benefits adds up to less than $4 a day each for Ms. Smith and her two children to eat. Some of you guys spend that much on one cup of coffee.'
spectra, we are still waiting for an answer. But I'm betting we will not get one.

proudgunowner
148
Points
proudgunowner 11/17/13 - 09:29 pm
0
0
Don't follow her on a
Unpublished

Don't follow her on a shopping trip. Just stand behind one of the cashiers at Kroger or Publix and watch what they come through the line with. Not long ago I was behind one in Publix who waddled up to the checkout with a $38 custom made birthday cake!

The TRUTH is that it is not food assistance that is being given out...It is nothing but VOTE BUYING by one political party.

KSL
143566
Points
KSL 11/17/13 - 09:46 pm
4
1
You people who keep defending

You people who keep defending the poor souls need to wise up. The working, tax paying Americans are getting tired of being taken advantage of. You can thank Obama and Reid and Pellosi. We are fed up.

JRC2024
10390
Points
JRC2024 11/17/13 - 10:07 pm
2
0
I will survive like the song

I will survive like the song says only it is they and more added each year.

prov227
3466
Points
prov227 11/17/13 - 11:26 pm
5
0
Sadly ...

I've had an individual offer to sell me his balance on his EBT card at the end of the month to raise cash. It was a $150 balance. I declined. Once charity becomes institutionalized through government agencies, corruption sets in.

Darby
29215
Points
Darby 11/17/13 - 11:45 pm
3
1
"The Great Society has created millions of ....

.....of slaves to the government.

.
Not really, Teaparty... What they have created are millions of wards and dependents of the government (government meaning taxpayers) who will NEVER develop the skills and/or the work ethic to provide for themselves.

On the other hand, they will always be there, ready and waiting for the opportunity to vote to elect and reelect Democrats out of gratitude for all their handouts.

And Specsta, one thing you didn't mention but I'm sure you are aware of, these folks aren't just on SNAP. There are a variety of Government programs out there as well as tried and true ways to double dip.

The welfare grapevine assures that no one misses out on any possible opportunity to access the trough.

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