Food banks brace for bigger demand with cuts to food stamps

by: John Knicely Updated:

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On Friday people on federal food stamps will see less money and Western Washington food banks are bracing for the impact. The 2009 Federal stimulus plan is ending and that will mean roughly $30 less per month for a family of three.

"I get $367 in food stamps and I spend every penny of it," said Cherie Abercrombie. She came to the Salvation Army food bank in Renton on Thursday to stock up. She and her 8-year-old daughter recently moved back to the Seattle area to live with her 27-year-old daughter, whom she calls the bread winner.

Abercrombie gets $367 in food stamps and on Friday that will be reduced by about $25 a month. Compare that to what the U.S. Department of Agriculture says the average monthly cost of food is for a family of two, $484 on a low-cost plan.

"I don't look at it as a dollar amount I'm losing," said Abercrombie. "I look at it as 2 gallons of milk, two loaves of bread. So now what food banks in the local area I can supplement it with I'm not going to be able to buy with the stamps."

"They're paying attention, we want to pay attention," said Capt. Chris Aird, with the Salvation Army. He's heard from a lot of people anxious about the cuts.

The Salvation Army food bank in Renton saw 650 new people needing food assistance in October. That's before the food stamp cuts.

"What we have to do is think outside the box if you will as far as extra food drives," said Aird. "Getting the word out that we are having more people, and we need more community assistance."

The Salvation Army is certainly not alone. KIRO 7 spoke with people at Northwest Harvest. They say since 2008 they've seen a 40 percent increase in people needing food. And they say with the food stamp reductions they expect even more people outside of food banks already stretched to their limits.

Congress is showing no sign of re-instating the food stamp stimulus, so the Salvation Army and others are encouraging everyone to help out with local food drives.