Florida food banks bracing for cuts

PALM BEACH COUNTY AND TREASURE COAST, FL (WFLX) - Food banks across Florida and those who use food stamps are bracing for cuts that kick in Friday.

On Friday, cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP but better known as food stamps, will begin. The U.S. House and Senate are preparing to negotiate a farm bill.

The cuts were built into the 2008 federal stimulus package which had temporarily added money to SNAP. For a family of four, who is receiving the maximum benefit of $668 a month, the cuts will translate to about $36 a month.

The anti-poverty group Florida Impact says the average person on food stamps currently gets about $4.60 a day.

Leaders at the Treasure Coast Food bank say they are "outraged" by the vote to slash spending. Treasure Coast Food Bank says it serves 107,880 people a week, an increase of 156% since 2010.  The increase is largely due to needs presented by the recession, the bank says.

"Cuts to SNAP, or food stamps, would be devastating to our community, and charities like ours cannot make up the difference," said Judy Cruz, CEO of Treasure Coast Food Bank.

Since the recession began, many food banks have built their donor base and increased distribution, which will help somewhat short-term, according to the Florida Association of Food Banks. Yet, the struggle will continue for individuals. About one in five households in Florida have reported they struggled to buy enough food for the family in the last year.

According to the Center for Budget and Policy Policies, the bill would mean that more than 400,000 people in Florida lose food assistance.  Meanwhile, the state of Florida is picking up some of the slack.  The state's 2013 Legislature has allocated $700,000 for supplemental nutrition programs, a 75% increase.

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