With less federal SNAP funding, food banks struggle to keep up

The Capital Area Food Bank says it\'s increased purchasing by 50 percent. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)
Food banks look to do more with less

Michelle Murillo | November 14, 2014 10:16 pm

WASHINGTON – As Congress decides on how it will fund the nation’s food stamps program, a temporary increase to the program is set to expire. This month, people on the program will start to receive less money.

On average, a family of four on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (or SNAP) will lose $36 dollars a month.

“It’s a lot when you’re struggling to pay rent, utilities, feed yourself and feed your kids,” said Kevin James, a SNAP recipient. “It’s a couple of days worth of meals, at least.”

Because folks will be getting less, area food banks are ordering more.

“This is a busy time of year for us. We’re always scaling up purchasing, but with this coming, we took that into account,” says Nancy E. Roman of Capital Area Food Bank.

With the holidays, she was already set to order more. With the decrease in benefits, she upped the order even more, Roman says.

“Our purchasing is up by more than half,” she says.

This year alone, the food bank will have moved 45 million pounds of food from their D.C. distribution center on Puerto Rico Avenue to their 500 partner agencies in the area. In turn, they’ll hand out the food to those in need, from organizations like Bread for the City to Food for Others.

This month’s order alone included 1,020 cases of sweet potatoes, 340 cases of carrots, 680 cases of mixed vegetables and 1,621 cases oatmeal.

And more demand means a need for more help, says Roman.

“For now, [we are] having to do more with the same amount,” she says. “We have the same number of staff and they are just working harder and longer to get food to people.”

Now, Roman hopes more volunteers and donors will come forward to help sort food as they serve more people.

Capital Area Food Bank doesn’t receive government funding. Financially, they are not affected by changes to the SNAP program.

Roman says the bank doesn’t take sides when it comes to the political issues.

“We serve everyone. We serve Republicans and Democrats and old and young and people in Virginia and Maryland and all over the region,” she says.

No matter how things turn out, Roman says the bank plans to continue to put food on the table for families in need.

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