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SNAP Benefit Cuts Increase Demand at Food Banks, Charities

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As November begins, cuts in food stamps have taken effect nationwide, and as a result, a  ripple effect of increasing demand on food banks have begun to occur.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit cuts took effect Friday, leaving the average family on food stamps with $36 less per month.

Eighteen percent of Floridians are receiving SNAP benefits, including more than 1 million children.

With the additional rumors of further rollbacks, the demand at local food pantries has surged in preparation for the holiday season.

St. Madeleine in High Springs already has 178 families signed up for Thanksgiving, but they can’t guarantee food for everyone.

In fact, some of those who used to donate are now in need of help themselves, said Bella Diefenderfer, the program director for St. Madeleine’s community outreach.

“You know there is not enough, and people that used to help before are now getting help from me because they lost their job, they moved back home with mom,” she said.

With sparse donations, the program has to consciously ration supplies to keep from running out. To aid them in the process, they use a guide to help tell them how much food to provide certain sized families.

Even though there is not as much assistance from the community, some volunteers, like Honey Hindery,  still find the time to help – even after 19 years.

“I am a retired social service worker, and I just like doing this kind of work and helping other people,” she said.

With the cuts, the story at St. Madeleine’s could be repeated at food banks across the state.

The two largest food banks in Marion County — Interfaith Services and The Salvation Army — are concerned about the changing equation since they’ve been seeing the same trend of decreases in donations and increases in clients.

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