Food-stamp cuts driving people to local food banks


Loaves and Fishes is one of hundreds of pantries in Los Angeles County struggling to feed families and people in need.

Pantry Director Barbara Ausburn fears billions of dollars in cuts from the federal food stamp program will leaving many more people looking to them for help.

"Well, the cut is very significant and we have seen a lot of clients come in here since the cut has taken place," said Ausburn.

The cuts became effective on Friday. Now a family of four that was getting $668 per month in food-stamp benefits will see their benefits cut.

Folks at the food pantry say they've got so many more new families coming in that even though they restocked shelves with plenty of food two weeks ago, they are nearly empty.

The pantry gets crates of food from the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank once a month. Officials at the Food Bank say while they are barely able to help the 650 food pantries they service throughout the county, cuts in the federal food stamp program will leave more of the 770,000 people who get food-stamp benefits in the county looking to pantries for extra help -- help that may not be there.

"I've had to turn down -- which I hate to have to do -- but we have to turn down clients that come in that are new because we feel that we need to take care of all our other clients first," said Ausburn.

L.A. Regional Food Bank officials say the cuts to the food-stamp program roll back the benefits to what they were before the recession. They say the government added funds to the program in 2009 to help families and individuals hit hardest by the financial downturn, and these new cuts will make it worse for people who are still struggling.

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