Fewer SNAP benefits send people to food pantries - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

Fewer SNAP benefits send people to food pantries

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Nicole Gerber

ngerber@abc6.com

@nicolegerber

PROVIDENCE - Last Friday, a temporary spending boost for SNAP benefits lapsed and slashed about $5 billion in food–aid for nearly 50 million Americans.

Now those people who can't afford groceries through the month are seeking help at food pantries, and at one local church, they're seeing a record number of patrons.

"I had $138 less this month," said Jackie Cruz, a single mother of three. Cuts to her SNAP benefits have forced her to seek help from the food pantry at South Providence Neighborhood Ministries... so that her kids can eat this month.

"We're going to have to go to more churches and more places to get the food...it's not fair," she said.

Her story is becoming a common one at South Providence Neighborhood Ministries, as more and more people worry about stretching their assistance money.

"The increase has been astronomical," said executive director Yvette Kenner. "They're calling and saying 'Can you help me I've been drastically cut what am I going to do?'"

Last week, the pantry saw an increase of 100 people. After being open less than two hours today, nearly 150 people were given food... that's compared to the 90 people typically served in an entire day. And this site only provides to people living in two zip codes in providence.

"It's tough... to try and meet the supply and demand sometimes we have to adjust what we give out... but we don't want to do that," Kenner said.

While the Ministries won't turn anyone away, their supply is limited. It comes from donations and the Rhode island food bank. The situation has both organizers and patrons worried about the future.

"We're here and today's the 5th only... it's going to be tough for the whole month," said Cruz.

South Providence Neighborhood Ministries also organizes Thanksgiving baskets this time of year, and they've seen an increase there as well. Sign–ups have only been open for a day... and already more than 400 people are registered.

Last year, they did just over 650 by the end of the month.

Patrons of the food pantry are allowed to come twice a week, as long as they qualify. On Fridays, anyone can come collect food until they're all out... no questions asked.

The pantry hopes to be able to accommodate anyone and everyone who needs help with getting enough food... but they can't do it without more help. To volunteer, call (401) 461-7509.

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