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Local food banks worried about increased demands in light of public assistance cuts

Updated: Tuesday, September 3 2013, 06:10 PM CDT
Reported by: Kyle Rogers

HARRISBURG -- A local food bank is concerned it won’t be able to keep up with a possible high demands of providing food, as cuts loom over a federal program formerly known for providing food stamps. 

Joe Arthur, executive director of the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, said that he’s seen record numbers of people turning to charitable food donors in recent times.

An act established by the government is set to expire Nov. 1. The U.S. Department of Agriculture sent a letter to organizations across the country warning of serious cuts to the SNAP – Supplementary Nutritionary Assistance Program.

According to a report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, a review of the Department of Agriculture’s report said nearly 1.8 million Pennsylvanians will see cuts in the amount of meals they can receive. An example provided estimated a family of four would have 21 fewer meals come Nov. 1.

More than 40 million people in America use the SNAP program to buy food at grocery stores and farmer’s markets. In Pennsylvania, nearly 14 percent of the population uses the program. The report stated that $138 million would be cut from Pennsylvania alone and Arthur said, he expects to see almost $40 million in reduced spending on food in Central Pennsylvania. 

“The more you cut into services, the more people are going to come into the charitable food,” said Arthur. 

Central Pennsylvania Food Bank has millions of pounds of food in storage, which could last only about a month. Relying heavily on donations from businesses and individuals, the director says he plans the food bank would need to double its supply as more Pennsylvanians could be coming to the food bank. 
“It would be as if we would have to double amount of food from community partners,” said Arthur. “They’re simply not able to handle that volume. 
Arthur plans to lobby with local lawmakers to discuss how impactful the issue is to food banks, grocery stores, and above all: the people who need food, he says. 



Local food banks worried about increased demands in light of public assistance cuts


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