Those who rely on food stamps are tightening their budgets after cuts are made to the SNAP program. Erin Moran has more on how the staff at one local food pantry is trying to put the cuts into perspective for everyone.
NEW YORK STATE -- The staff at one local food pantry is joining the countless Americans whose food stamp benefits were reduced on Friday.
“The amount of money that most people get to eat, it's only $4.50 a day on average per individual, so here in the office we're going to be doing the SNAP challenge,” said Natasha Pernicka, Executive Director of the Food Pantries for the Capital District.
As part of the SNAP Challenge, the pantry staff is trying to live on less than $4.50 a day for meals. Pernicka says her trip to the grocery store this week was much different than weeks prior.
“I got a lot of dried beans and a couple of vegetables,” she said.
She also was able to get some oatmeal, eggs, and a quarter pound of hamburger meat, but at the end of her trip she had no money left for dairy products.
She said the experience was a reality check, saying, “I can't imagine what people face going to the register and wondering if they have enough money to cover what's in their cart. I can't imagine how that would feel, especially if you have a family.”
These cuts were implemented after the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act expired. Pernicka also pointed to the dramatic cuts that would occur if the Farm Bill doesn’t get passed.
Congressman Chris Gibson, who serves on the house agricultural committee, said there is a necessity for programs like these, saying, “I think it’s really important that we have a program for Americans who need assistance, that we have that assistance for them. And that we have it in a way that the taxpayers can be proud of.”
Pernicka said the hope is that by participating in the Food Stamp Challenge, it will enlighten communities to the struggles that food stamp recipients face on a daily basis.
“I think the reality is that the SNAP and Food Stamp Benefits don't go very far. It's not that you can afford to buy filet mignon with your food stamp benefits. It's something that typically lasts people three out of the four weeks a month,” she said.
Pernicka said food pantries are expecting a significantly higher demand over the coming weeks and months.
For more information on how to donate, you can check out the Food Pantries of the Capital District's website.