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SOURCE Feeding America
School Lunch Programs Close for Winter Break While Food Stamp Cuts And High Heating Bills Strain Food Budgets of Low-Income Americans
CHICAGO, Dec. 17, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Feeding America food banks across the nation expect to see a significant increase in the number people seeking food assistance this holiday season as public schools close for two-to-three weeks for the winter holidays and the full impact of the recent $5 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, commonly known as food stamps) begins to affect millions of low-income Americans.
The anticipated need this holiday season comes from a variety of reasons:
Winter has hit hard and hit early in many states this year, adding additional and unexpected heating expenses for many people.
21 million children will miss out on free or reduced breakfast and lunch at school during the long winter break.
Food banks are expecting 25 percent less food deliveries of USDA commodities this winter than were received in 2012.
The Nov. 1 reduction in benefits for all SNAP recipients means that in fiscal year 2014 nearly 1.9 billion meals currently provided by SNAP will disappear, according to a Feeding America analysis.
"We know that the need is there - our food banks see it every day on the front lines. But as we go into the winter months, low income Americans have to struggle even more," said Bob Aiken, CEO of Feeding America, the nation's leading hunger-relief charity. "We anticipate that our food banks and the food pantries they serve will see increased need in the weeks to come."
Rachel, a married mother of two who lives in Virginia, is typical of many of the nearly six million people who turn to Feeding America each week for help. Her husband works 32 hours a week, the most his employer will schedule him. His take home pay is about $800 a month after taxes.
"He would work more hours if he could get them, and he would work a better job if he could find one, but there just aren't any jobs here," Rachel said. She and her husband lost their home two years ago and now live with her parents. Their SNAP benefits were recently cut to $245.00 monthly.
Rachel explained that she has to stretch every single dollar, so she buys the least expensive food she can find. She said that she often cannot provide her family with nutritious food. Much of her family's weekly meals consist of hot dogs, spaghetti, frozen French fries, ramen noodles, and macaroni and cheese.
At a recent food distribution by Feeding America Southwest Virginia, Rachel received a large box of food that included tuna fish, peanut butter, fresh oranges and potatoes, soups, stews, juice, rice and beans.
"This is a god send for me and my family. We're going to eat really well for the next couple of weeks," she said.
"Rachel's story is, unfortunately, like those of so many other Americans today. One in seven Americans live at or below the poverty level, and 49 million Americans are defined by the USDA as being food insecure. This is why we are asking those who are able to help families like Rachel's by donating to Feeding America this holiday season," Aiken said.
About Feeding America Feeding America is a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks that leads the fight against hunger in the United States. Together, we provide food to more than 37 million people through 61,000 food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters in communities across America. Feeding America also supports programs that improve food security among the people we serve; educates the public about the problem of hunger; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Individuals, charities, businesses and government all have a role in ending hunger. Donate. Volunteer. Advocate. Educate. Together we can solve hunger. Visit http://www.feedingamerica.org/. Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/FeedingAmerica or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/FeedingAmerica.