Local food pantry feels pinch from SNAP cuts, cold weather


UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) -- Federal food benefits were cut back at the beginning of the month and local food pantries and organizations are already feeling the effects.

The Rescue Mission of Utica is struggling to keep food on their shelves for families in need.

"It's a combination of a lot of different things. The reduction of the SNAP program, the holidays that are upon us, so there's great needs right now," said Ernie Talerico.

Cuts were made to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program also known as SNAP just over a week ago. There are over 3 million New York recipients projected for 2014. With $36 less a month, many families are turning to pantries and organizations for help.

"It puts a strain on families. There's less money to go around and we also will see the needs increase," said Talerico. "Last year we had 137 percent increase in our food box program. This year we are at those numbers and we project to come in a little bit higher of those numbers from last year."

The organization says they need help now more than ever.

"Our resources are strained. We need donations. We're looking for donations of food, of turkeys, of warm clothing, of blankets, hygiene items," said Talerico.

The director of operations said the plummeting temperatures will spread resources even thinner and their emergency shelter is already at capacity.

"The cold weather- we see an increase in heating for homes, also we see an increased need of people coming to our homeless shelter," said Talerico.

They're hoping the community lends a helping hand as they have time and time again.

"We have a great community. People come together and they do help and we're very grateful for that," said Talerico.

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