News 12 at 6 o' clock/ November 4, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga.--It's day four of food stamp cutbacks for 47 million Americans, and it's affecting thousands of families right here at home. Local food banks have been bracing for the cutback, but many outreach ministries say they're already seeing the effects.
Charlotte Ginn is a pastor at Bible Deliverance Temple in Augusta. She comes to the Golden Harvest Food Bank every week to stock up on food to help with their outreach programs.
She says, "We serve an early morning breakfast, we feed the homeless...and we do a food pantry: emergency food and a monthly food pantry." But, on November 1st, the food in their pantry disappeared a little faster.
"We did our distribution last week, and we actually almost ran out of everything because so many more families came in to get more help, so it's really happening," she said.
It's a problem the Golden Harvest Food Bank, which collects and distributes food to more than 300 agencies across 30 counties, has been bracing for.
Rebecca Hersey, the Director of Development at Golden Harvest Food Bank, says, "We've been working tirelessly and feverishly to make sure the food items and the non food items that our clients need, that those will be in our local pantries."
The extra food stamp benefits were part of a temporary stimulus plan approved in 2009, but as of November 1st, that temporary boost is over. Estimates show families will now only get an average of $1.40 cents per person per meal.
"We know the demand on our pantries is going to increase. We know people are going to have less dollars to spend at their local grocery store," Hersey says.
To make matters worse, the cuts are hitting at the beginning of the holiday season which is the busiest season for food pantries. They say, now more than ever, they'll be depending on food drives, donations, and volunteers to help get them through.
"We're not fearful. We know we're going to make it through, but we're going to be counting on our neighbors now more than ever before," Hersey says.
On November 18th, any cash donation you make to Golden Harvest Food Bank, between $5 and $1,000, will be tripled by Bank of America. Just go to http://www.goldenharvest.org to donate.