LAWTON, Okla._ A cut to the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) leaves tens of thousands of people in our area with less money for groceries.
A temporary increase in funds for the program, popularly known as food stamps, came from the 2009 stimulus bill. Those dollars have now expired. The amount of the cut varies, but, a family of four, for example, receiving maximum benefits will lose $36 each month.
"Before, maybe you liked three packs of steaks, well you just cut it down to two," said Beverly Burroughs.
She is one of more than 600,000 Oklahomans who will see a decrease in food stamp funds starting today. She'll lose $20 per month, from $367 to $347 for her and her 14-year-old son. Still, more than she says she needs.
"If I absolutely had to really, really pinch a penny, I think I could probably do like $180," Burroughs said.
Not everyone is taking the news as lightly. One Lawton man who provides for himself will lose $11. He will be left with just under $90 a month. He believes that is not enough.
"It's just tough," said Ed Washington. "Food is high. A bag of beans will cost you two dollars."
Many recipients of the benefits said today by the end of most months, their refrigerators and pantries are bare.
"Right now if you would look inside my refrigerator you wouldn't see too much of anything," said Edroy Holloway, who will not have new dollars loaded onto his SNAP card until Nov. 10.
It is the end of the month, when the SNAP dollars are sparce, that the Lawton Food Bank sees an increase in customers.
"Nobody likes to ask strangers for help," said Jeri Mosiman, director of the food bank. "Nobody likes to admit they can't take care of their families all by themselves."
there's a real value in the food stamps program and says she understands the
cuts, but in the same breath realizes the services of the food bank will become
more important than ever before.
"When there is a family out there that is trying to do the best they can, or perhaps someone who is disabled and they are not able to work, you hate to see them going hungry. You hate to see them go down to one meal a day," Mosiman said.
In 2012 the food bank supported an average of 850 families a month, according to Mosiman. Over the past three months they've been feeding more than 900 families.
More cuts could be on the way for SNAP recipients pending the outcome of negotiations in congress over a new Farm Bill. The house and senate are still divided over how much to exactly cut.
The number of Americans that receive food stamps has nearly doubled since before the recession in 2007, from 26 to nearly 48 million people. That comes down to one in seven Americans receiving these benefits.