By Dan Heyman, WVNS
West Virginia families that are struggling financially will have a little less help affording food this month. A 2009 boost to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) intended to soften the recession’s impact expires today. The cuts to food stamps amount to 5.5 percent, or $36 a month for a family of four.
Carla Nardella, executive director of Mountaineer Food Bank, the largest nonprofit food assistance program in West Virginia, says her organization doesn’t see hunger easing, even as the economy is supposed to be improving. “We have fielded several phone calls already this week,” she says, “people expressing their concerns, and with the cuts on food stamps, they just aren’t sure how they’re going to make their ends meet.”
Nearly 300,000 West Virginians will see their benefits decrease. Some in Congress are pressing for further cuts to the SNAP Program, to reduce the federal deficit. One Senate plan would $4.5 billion and a House version calls for $40 billion in cuts over 10 years.
Nardella says this year, her organization expects to distribute a record 10 million pounds of food. Even so, she says, it’s never enough. “We are just moving food through here,” she explains. “Just as fast as we can get donations, we’re moving them right back out.”