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Food stamp program faces cuts; 1 in 7 Americans receive benefits

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PHOENIX -

Food stamp benefits were slashed for nearly 48 million Americans -- a boost to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program during the recession which expired on Nov. 1st and it's impacting families in Arizona.

Nearly every single person receiving food stamps will see about a 14 percent cut. That's about $420 a year for the average family.

Two factors are driving this: lack of funds and the failure of Congress to pass a new farm bill and it's hurting people who want to work, but can't.

"All my life I've worked.. I've never had to come here and get assistance, but I need it," said Teresa Phillips.

For seven years, Phillips worked at Great American Title.  Two weeks ago, she was fired and ended up at the Department of Economic Security, hoping to get food stamps.

"I definitely need it.  I'm not taking advantage.  I'm having hardship," she said.

With the average family of four losing about $36 a month with the cuts, St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance is bracing to see more families needing food boxes during what's already their busiest time of the year.

"When you talk about this cut in stamp benefits, that's just another thing that's gonna cut budgets and people are gonna turn to the food bank for help," said St. Mary's Jerry Brown.

St. Mary's and their partners distribute 30,000 to 35,000 emergency food boxes across the state every day.

"That's a high watermark.  That's something that hasn't gone down since the economy went sideways in 2009 and we don't see it getting better any time soon," said Brown.

Since losing her job, Teresa has already needed the food bank's help.

"It's a real big help even though it's the two us," she said.  "We don't get much, but it's enough to get us by for a few days."

The cut that went into effect is the first to hit the food stamp service. 

A five-year farm bill passed by the House would cut $39 billion over the next decade.  A bill passed by the Senate would cut $4 billion.  Congress continues to be in a deadlock.

St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance
(602) 242-FOOD (3663)
Locations in Phoenix, Surprise, Flagstaff
www.firstfoodbank.org/contact

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