“There are other ways we can balance the budget and make out country work again. But if we do it on the backs of the poor, in my mind, that's a shame.”
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Up to 17 percent of families in the Ozarks will be impacted by cuts to food stamps starting tomorrow.
These cuts will make it tougher for over 950,000 Missourians currently relying on food stamps to put food on their family table.
As a startling statistic, fifty percent of Springfield families with a child age five or under are living at or below the poverty level.
The cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, will likely worsen the situation for these families.
Gladys Marler is one of 42,000 residents in Greene County alone relying on food stamps.
“I come up here because there's not enough food in the house,” says Marler. “I don't get enough you know, on the stamps, to cover that.”
Marler turns to local food pantries, like Crosslines, to put food on her family table.
To make matters worse, SNAP benefit cuts become effective on Friday.
“People who are already barely making it by are going to be hurt even more by these cuts,” says
Rev. Mark Struckhoff, executive director of Council of Churches of the Ozarks. “They will be unable to make ends meet even less than they were before.”
SNAP benefits were increased in 2009 under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, but this increase ends on November 1st.
“Locally what it might mean it could mean as much as 40,000 people or so having their benefits cut,” says Rev. Struckhoff. “And it could be as much as $1 million drained out of our local economy.”
A family's benefits depend on many things like income, household size, and other expenses.
“Typically when they make cuts like this they're going to effect everybody” says Rev. Struckhoff. “It's just a matter of how deeply.”
A family of four could see $36 a month cut from their food stamps.
A natural question is, why is this happening?
“What the motivation is is to balance the budget,” says Rev. Struckhoff.
KOLR10 reached out to Congressman Billy Long's office for comment.
A spokesperson tells us we need to remember the program was significantly expanded as part of the 2009 stimulus.
“In 2010, the democrat-controlled legislature set a sunset date for this increase of October 31st, 2013,” he says. “The danger of enacting temporary policies such as this is that they quickly become the status quo, and if ended, surprise unprepared beneficiaries. We need to get back to budgeting in Washington a year at a time.”
“But I would argue, I would hope, that we would not balance the budget on the backs of the poor,” says Rev. Struckhoff. “There are other ways we can balance the budget and make out country work again. But if we do it on the backs of the poor, in my mind, that's a shame.”
Food pantries like Crosslines face an increased demand. It's relying on the generosity of our community to feed local families. To see how you can help, go to this website: www.CCOzarks.org