Director Of Food Banks Says They Can’t Meet New Needs

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Cuts in the federal SNAP program, more commonly known as food stamps, went into effect Oct. 31.

Lisa Hamler Fugitt of the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Food banks says food pantries are bracing for more Ohioans to come through their doors as a result.

In an interview with Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles, Hamler Fugitt explains why there won’t be enough food at food banks to meet the increased needs.

"We have already talked to a number of families that have heard that their benefits for November are going to be cut," Hamler Fugitt said. "I talked to a young woman this morning. Her name is Annie. She is a single Mom with two kids. Her food stamps for October were $590 a month and her November benefits will be reduced to $495, a cut of more than $95 a month which is more than three times the amount of a cut that we were told that a family of three. She has made it very clear that she was already turning to food pantries.

"It means that I won’t be able to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables for my kids. It means more days of hunger. What we are going to have is the working poor, those who won’t be able to qualify for the food stamp program, that will now be competing for fewer resources at our food banks and pantries. We don’t have it. In fact, this cut totals over 193 million dollars over the next 11 month and it would require our statewide network of 12 food banks and 3,300 member charities to double the amount of food they are currently distributing. And that’s not going to happen.

Ingles asked if she agrees and whether or not this frustrates her.

"It certainly does frustrate me and in fact, I was in Washington D.C. earlier this week and I think that the rhetoric in this idea that private charities will fill the gap and that individuals who are depending on the food stamp program are somehow not productive members of society," Hamler Fugitt said. "And I find that very very frustrating. 87 percent of all food stamp recipients in the state of Ohio are families with children. 40 percent of them work. They are seniors and people with disabilities. This is the first line of defense against hunger and while congress has brought our country to the verge of fiscal collapse, spending time pointing fingers at one another, voting 48 times to repeal the affordable care act, they are not doing the people’s business.

"And at a time when we are allowing subsidies to go to million dollar ag operations while asking our most vulnerable to make more sacrifices than they currently are, is mean spirited, it will not help our economy recover…and it’s just plain wrong. It is immoral."