Food stamp cuts lead millions into local food pantries

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ATOKA, OK-Over 40 million Americans and thousands of Texomans who rely on food stamps will see cuts in their benefits beginning Friday. Because of the cutbacks, area food banks said they are starting to see more people come through their doors asking for help.

"We got cut down to $149 so it's gonna be really really hard."

Michelle Maiden, a mother of three, said starting Friday she will see $50 less in food stamp benefits every month. She said it's already a struggle to feed a family of five, now, it'll be even harder.

"I was very upset because we weren't getting a lot anyways," he said.

Maiden is one of more than 2700 Atoka County residents who are dependent on food stamps and that's 19 percent of the county's population.

According to the USDA, President Obama's 2009 economic stimulus that temporarily boosts food stamp funding expired Friday, cutting $5-billion off the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program--also known as SNAP.

Oklahoma DHS Freda House said a family of four would lose about $36 a month.

"It is a significant drop for somebody who's dependent. A lot of our families however, I'd say 40 percent according to our statistics are working people who don't make enough and they're allowing the SNAP program to supplement the income that they already have," she said.

That's why House said many of their clients are turning to area food banks like INCA to help put food on the table.

"I feel that we'll see an increase in our food pantries. Normally it's for people who need emergency assistance right away, all of our programs are for dire need."

INCA Food Bank's Erica Pogue said she has seen dozens of new faces recently asking for food assistance.
She said right now, they can handle the additional traffic.

"I think we're okay with it. It will be later on that we may see a depletion in our stock and then at that time we'll search out funding and try to fill them back up," she said.

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