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More cuts could be on the way for food stamp program

By Lyndsey Price, lprice@wcyb.com
Published On: Feb 03 2014 05:01:20 PM CST
food stamp cuts
BRISTOL, Tenn./Va. -

More cuts could be coming to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP and formerly known as Food Stamps, that could leave some local families in a bind.

On Monday the Senate started talking about the house-approved Farm Bill calling for the cuts.

It seems the line is getting longer at the Salvation Army in Bristol, Tennessee for people waiting to get a warm meal. We learned one of the reasons is cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. "Food is so high. What's $22 going to buy? Not a whole lot," says Ruth Vickers, who had her food stamps cut.

Vickers is one of many people feeling the effects of cuts to SNAP benefits. She tells us now she has to go to food banks to get enough food. "Living on a fixed income and paying your rent, your light bill, and water bill, you don't have anything left to buy groceries," she said.

She isn't the only one. David Fowler tells us after cuts to food stamps, he is supplementing his food by eating some meals at the Salvation Army. "The majority of the people honestly deserve them and are honestly in a hard time. It's just a hard time all over the place right now," he told us.

Sara Buck with the Salvation Army in Bristol tells us since the cuts on food stamps in November, they've had a 15 percent increase in the amount of meals they are providing. She says in October 2013 they served 3,547 meals, and in November they served 4,097. "We've seen an increase of people coming in to get food orders from our food pantry, so we have to prepare in that way to make sure we have enough food to feed the families that need the help," she said.

The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to approve a compromised five-year Farm Bill. Advocates for the poor are upset that the bill would also cut as much as $90 a month from food stamps for about 1.7 million people, that's on top of the cuts from November. "We are hearing more people come in here, saying, 'This is the first time I've had to come here,'" says Jim White with Bristol Emergency Food Pantry.

White tells us they are also seeing an increased need for food. He says he is worried additional cuts could mean an additional need.

Meanwhile, people like David Fowler hope people abusing the program will stop so those truly in need can get help. "There are a lot of people out there who really need more than what they're getting," he said.

The Salvation Army in Bristol tells us they are in need for canned foods for their pantry. If you would like to donate food, you can drop it off to them at 1224 W State St, Bristol, TN, 37620.