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Martinsville Bulletin, Inc.
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204 Broad Street
Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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Impact of cut spreads
SNAP stimulus program expired

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

Jay Coburn of Bassett, who is unemployed, said his food stamp allotment went from $200 a month to $189 after the temporary increase in food stamps expired Oct. 31.

Starting in 2009, the federal stimulus pumped $45.2 billion into the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), The Associated Press reported. That temporary increase ended Oct. 31.

Coburn said he is making do by buying more store brands of food and eating a little less. He added he’s not going hungry, though.

Coburn was one of about 325 people who ate in or got take-out meals at Bassett Memorial United Methodist Church’s free community Thanksgiving Day lunch. He also eats at the church’s free monthly meal, he said.

“When cuts are made to federal nutrition programs, charities are left to fill the gap,” according to the website of Feeding America, a hunger-relief organization.

Barry Tinsley, donation coordinator for the Community Storehouse, said last week that the week before, Community Storehouse had a few more clients come in to get food boxes, but that’s typical for this time of year.

“I’m pretty sure” the expiration of the stimulus increase in food stamps “will eventually” affect Community Storehouse, he said.

Becky McKinney, president of the board of directors of Grace Network, said she thought it likely that Grace would be affected because it has a lot of clients on food stamps.

“We’re seeing more food going out,” added Merle Prince, food coordinator for Grace Network. “We are seeing a larger number of clients than usual.”

“We’ve seen more empty shelves” at Grace Network’s food panty since the stimulus increase in food stamps expired Oct. 31, according to Donna Proctor, executive director of Grace Network.

“It’s definitely causing an increase in clients asking for food,” she said. “It’s putting a bit of a strain on our food pantry.”

When shelves go bare at Grace Network, clients may get less food, Proctor said. “We have a client-choice food pantry.”

To encourage more donations when food shelves are bare, Grace Network has been posting photographs of them on its Facebook page, Proctor said. “Response has been overwhelming,” she added.

“Right now, we look pretty good,” she said.

Recently, Grace Network received more than 900 pounds of meat from Hunters for the Hungry. And HanesBrands recently did a food drive for Grace Network, and among the food donated were four turkeys.

Turkeys, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing mix and other holiday foods are great donations with Christmas approaching, Proctor said.

“Remember your fellow man may not be as lucky as you. Other people may not be able to make (holiday) plans because they don’t have means,” she said.


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