Food stamp cuts to hit south Georgia Friday -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Food stamp cuts to hit south Georgia Friday


South Georgians on food stamps will notice a cut in their benefits starting Friday. Nationwide, the food stamp program is cutting $5 billion, and agencies that serve people expect a major increase in the demand for their services.

28.5 percent of the households in Dougherty County, more than 36,000 people, receive food stamps or assistance through SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Relief programs aren't sure they can keep up with the increased need they expect because of these cuts.

Food stamp recipient Bridgette Johnson goes to the Lord's Pantry in downtown Albany to get food and clothes for her and her five children. She says she can handle the food stamp cuts, if they are not too big.

"It depends on how much they are cutting," said Johnson. "Now if they are cutting $25, I don't think that will be a problem. But if they are cutting $50 to $100, I think that will be a big decrease for the family."

The 2011 Census reports more than 32 percent of the people in Albany live below the poverty level. The Department of Family and Children Services say 17,465 families in Dougherty County receive food stamps. Feeding America estimates that the cuts will equal one dollar and forty cents per person per meal.

The Lord's Pantry has already seen increases in the number of people seeking assistance this year, and are concerned what the cuts will mean.

"This year we are running in a deficit, said Volunteer C.B. Fincher. "In other words what we're spending right now exceeds what is coming in, to cover our costs right now."

Johnson said she knows the food stamp cuts will hit Albany's poor hard, and the relief organizations will see more people wanting help.

"They are going to be working more," said Johnson. "There's no doubt about that. It's going to put pressure on the Food Banks and people who are giving out food.  They are going to have a tremendous job on their hands. No doubt."

Second Harvest Food Bank of South Georgia says $5 billion is half of the Feeding America food program total output now, so the cuts will be widespread.  Bridgette Johnson hopes Federal Government leaders can find somewhere else to cut.

"Because you are going to have a lot of people out there who are going to be hungry," said Johnson. "Kids are going to be hungry. And then the Food Banks are going to be crowded you know.  It's going to be a terrible thing."

Second Harvest says five billion dollars represents about 1 point 9 million meals that will be cut.

Second Harvest says they are still trying to determine exactly how much funding will be cut, but what they are sure of is that they will see an increase in demand, just as the holiday season approaches.

If you would like to help the Lord's Pantry, which has been serving those in need for more than 38 years, you can call them at 435-0911.

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