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Food pantries expect shortage with cuts to SNAP benefits

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Updated: 11/03/2013 8:01 am

ALBANY, N.Y. - Millions of Americans who rely on food stamps have now seen a reduction in benefits after a temporary boost in funds to the federal program, known as SNAP, are no longer available. 

As a result, food banks and charitable organizations across the country are anticipating a higher demand in services.

The Salvation Army in Albany is just one of the locations where families in need can come to the food pantry every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

"Many people will come to our doors," explains Major Israel Acosta of the Salvation Army, who is preparing for more people in need. He says he has already gotten phone calls from worried parents who rely on food stamps every month.

With cutbacks in funding, more than 47 million Americans across the country are affected. This means a family of four will be getting $36 less a month, which translates to about 21 meals a month, according to the Department of Agriculture.

Currently, The Food Pantry at the Salvation Army in Albany provides meals for 75 families and in the Capital Region, more than 2,500 families. 

"They come here in the time of need," said Acosta, "Emergency and to come to be served." 

With the reduction in benefits, Major Acosta says this will put more pressure on area food banks and pantries, including theirs.

"Some difficult times for people is when they don't have food," he explained, "So if they are desperate and they don't have food they will come to us because we are available."

Major Acosta tells News10 ABC the demand for food is high and they are currently experiencing a food shortage. But, food shortage or not, he says they will be ready to help more families. 

"We are always available to move forward in the time of crisis," he stated. 

These cuts are being implemented because a temporary benefit in the 2009 economic stimulus has run out. Lawmakers like Senator Charles Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand say the cuts come at an unfortunate time for Americans. 

"With unemployment as high as it is," Senator Schumer continued, "to cut back on food stamps makes no sense." 

Both, Schumer and Gillibrand are now fighting to restore cuts to the program, urging committee members of the Farm Bill to reconsider the needs of struggling families.  The food stamp program is authorized in the farm bill covering all agricultural programs.

Although the Salvation Army here says they are prepared, they are now asking the community to help out these families in need. 

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