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Food Stamp cuts affect local families and food pantries

By ALLISON NORLIAN

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Oneida County families brace as billions of dollars are cut from food stamps, leaving families on SNAP (food stamps) with less money to use while food shopping. One local Utica woman, Kim Mizo, explains how this is going to affect her, as she tries to raise her daughter as a single mother.

Mizo dreamed of coming to the United States with her daughter, going to college and building a better life for her family. Instead, she found herself on food stamps, fighting to make ends meet each and everyday. Mizo said, "It's sad when my daughter asks for something and I cant give it to her. It's really sad you cant imagine it.  I'm here by myself just with my daughter and I came here because I want to go to college, I don't want to live with food stamps my whole life...but I am 21 years old and I have to do it."

Mizo relies on the food stamps as she struggles to pay all of her other bills, "I have to pay my rent, my insurance, car my gas," she said, "and then put more money in food because it's not enough, it's literally not enough."

It all started in 2009 with President Obama's stimulus plan. SNAP recipients received a 13.6 percent increase in SNAP benefits which have now expired.

Jane Domingue, Director at the Thea Bowman House said, " We've also seen such a nation wide emphasis on trying to have more nutritious meals and were going in an opposite direction with these cuts."

Mizo's SNAP check went from $300 a month to $260, a whopping $40 dollars was taken out of her check, the money she uses to feed herself and her four year old daughter. Money has been so tight for Mizo, she is forced to leave her apartment tomorrow after not being able to pay last months rent, " Everything counts. $10 dollars, $15 dollars...everything counts," Mizo said.

Domingue said, "Well... it's going to affect us in a few ways. First of all we serve low income families through our childcare programs, most of them are headed by single parent house holds. The head of the household is usually working and and they are usually working at minimum wage or slightly above in terms of their income. Imagine any one of us living on an income like that out of that they are trying to balance their rent, their food, their childcare, so this will have a drastic affect on the families ability to provide nutritious meals for their families. It will have a terrible affect on the entire way they are able to balance budget. I cant see how a person can possibly live on what's going to be allotted to them."

Domingue also fears the children who attend the Thea Bowman school will begin losing focus, specifically because of hunger, or that students won't have a nutritional diet because of a lack of funds, " An increasing number of families are unable to obtain childcare, nutritious food, we hear that all the time from the families. The best they can do with the income they have is not to buy some healthy foods and veggies we all want them to eat...so  they are on a junk food diet many times when they can't obtain good food."

Besides the families, local food pantries and feeding sights will be affected by the SNAP cuts.

Domingue said, " Food pantries over the passed four years, the numbers using our food pantries have just about quadrupled. It's easy for us in the West Utica section of the city alone to see 1,000 individuals a month going through our food pantry and so we are concerned with these cuts that's going to only increase and our ability to purchase food to help them is going to decrease."

The SNAP cuts will affect over 17,000 people in Oneida County.

Food Pantries in the area:

-Thea Bowman House

-Compassion Coalition

-Hope House

-Food Bank of Utica
 

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