Food pantry organizers “unable to plug the hole”
The head of the Pennsylvania’s largest food bank has warned that demand for groceries following a $5 billion dollar cut in the food stamp program cannot be met.
Joe Arthur of the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank “says the donor network for the food banks is already stretched too thin to quickly expand,” according to an Associated Press report.
From November 1st, $5 billion was wiped off the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as a result of a planned stimulus withdrawal. Almost 50 million Americans who are supported by the program face an average loss of $36 dollars a month, which is a significant amount for those living near the poverty line.
Food pantry organizers will be “unable to plug the hole being left by a reduction in federal funding for food stamps,” which will leave families of four in Pennsylvania facing the prospect of 20 fewer meals per month, according to Arthur.
The Association of Arizona Food Banks sounds a similar warning, noting that the 5 per cent cut, although appearing minor on the surface, equates to about half a week’s budget for someone whose primary source of food is SNAP.
Spokesman Brian Simpson illustrated how the massive surge in demand for food was linked to the struggling economy.
Before the 2007 recession, the five food banks in his association were handing out an average of 69,000 emergency food boxes per month. Last month, 108,300 boxes were handed out, an increase of around 80 per cent.
The true impact of the cut will really be felt in the final week of November, when food stamp recipients will begin to run out of benefits.
According to Margaret Purvis, the CEO of the largest food bank in America, members of her Food Bank for New York City organization, are “panicking” over the decrease in benefits, fearing a rush of hungry Americans.
“We’re telling everyone to make sure that you are prepared for longer lines,” Purvis told NBC News.
Her comments were echoed by Jim Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center, who stated, “It’s going to send people into a charitable system that’s already overwhelmed and screaming for help itself.”
Purvis also invoked the threat of riots caused by millions of Americans going hungry when she told Salon.com, “If you look across the world, riots always begin typically the same way: when people cannot afford to eat food.”
This has prompted some to speculate that the Department of Homeland Security is gearing up for potential unrest with its recent hiring of security guards to protect government buildings in New York, as well as the purchase of half a million dollars worth of fully automatic pepper spray launchers and projectiles that are designed to be used during riot control situations.