The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa


November 8, 2013

Food pantries feeling the pinch


The change to the SNAP program affects 422,000 Iowans and 47 million Americans.

Clark started using food stamps in 1996 after she suffered a stroke and heart attack and went on disability. Her usual monthly check was $200 until this month when the cuts took effect. Now, she fears she'll have to use a food pantry as her own shelves get bare toward the end of the month.

"If I lose my food stamps I have to decide if I'm going to buy food or pay a bill or buy medication. When you can't fend for yourself it kind of makes you feel worthless," Clark said. "But I gotta do what I gotta do."

The Salvation Arm finds many clients use the food pantry as a supplement to the food they buy with food stamps.

"People are feeling the pinch and they need help," Salvation Army Lt. Jeanette Jensen. "We are constantly running through supplies. We've had to put all our money into the pantry."

James Adkins, 22, of Clinton, stood outside the Benevolent Society on Thursday, a place he didn't find himself in before his food stamps were cut from $200 to $86 a month.

He's been on food stamps for nearly two years and, like Clark, is on disability.

"I can't afford to buy food for the whole month. I used to be able to buy meat and vegetables and enough food to last the whole month. Now I can buy maybe a couple pork chops and some vegetables, but I have to come here," Adkins said.

More cuts to the SNAP program, which has more than doubled in cost since 2008, could be on the way as Congress debates different versions of the Farm Bill. Under the Senate bill, the SNAP program would be cut by $4 billion over the course of 10 years. The House bill calls for $40 billion in cuts over the same period, lending no comfort to the thinly stretched food pantries and the people who use them.

"I think people are already starting to panic and know there are more cuts to come," Michaelsen said. "I do think it's going to get worse."



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