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Food stamp program faces $5 billion cut Friday

For the first time, the federal food stamp program is set to be slashed by $5 billion Friday.
October 30, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
For the first time, the federal food stamp program is set to be slashed by $5 billion Friday. Nearly 50 million Americans, most of them children, disabled and the elderly, will see their benefits cut. And food banks are preparing for the rush of the needy looking for food.

Wednesday was busy at the Foothill Unity Center Food Bank in Pasadena with people picking up carts of food that have to last several days.

"At the end of the month when there is no food, then what?" said Pasadena resident Trina Ingle. "We have to go steal some food? I don't understand how you're cutting food stamps."

Many are worried that any cuts in the food stamp program, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), will result in more families in need. The program faces the $5 billion cut Friday as Congress fights over a farm bill.

"We know that we're going to get a great impact of more families coming to utilize our services. It will make a difference in how we're able to give each family or how much we're able to distribute throughout the year," said Raina Martinez, Foothill Unity Center.

For Californians, these cuts would come to $11 per month for a single household; $20 per month for a couple; and $29 per month for a family of three.

That $29 per month might not seem like a lot, but according to the Department of Agriculture, it would work out to about 16 fewer meals a month.

Congress is dealing with the issue now.

Congresswoman Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-Chino) said: "The challenge before us will not be easy as many members have proposed even deeper cuts to SNAP."

Congressman Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) said the cuts will "... close loopholes that have allowed waste, fraud, and abuse of the system while ensuring help remains available to those in our society who need it most."

"I think it's terrible, but that's what's happening to us now in America, it's left up to the food banks to take up what we don't have at home and don't get on our paychecks," said one woman at the food bank.