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Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/59392555@N00/6863773432/">Selbe B</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Photo: Selbe B, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

As Nov. 1 approaches, social service providers brace for impact

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At the end of the month, families who depend on food stamps will start getting less money for their groceries. On November 1st, a boost to food stamps from the federal stimulus from 2009 will expire.

Social service providers are bracing for a spike in demand for emergency food services. Zach Hirsch reports.

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Reported by

Zach Hirsch
Reporter and Producer

The size of the cut varies for each participating household. Families of three will lose $29 from their monthly food stamp budget, and for families of four, it’ll be $36.

"This decrease will add up to a significant amount over a period of several months."

Chris Redeihs is the St. Lawrence County Social Services commissioner. He says the timing for these cutbacks couldn’t be worse.  The region still hasn’t recovered from the recession. St. Lawrence County has the highest unemployment rate in the state, outside of New York City.

"Many families here in St Lawrence county are struggling at this time because they are not able to find employment, and in many cases the employment that they’ve found is really not providing adequate income," he said.

And that’s what food stamps are for: to help out families in hard times. But, according to Daisy Cox of the Potsdam Neighborhood Center, the program is inadequate - even with the 2009 boost. She says many food stamp recipients are already going to emergency food pantries, because food stamps aren’t enough.  

So when the stimulus provision expires on November 1st, Cox says she expects her clients to lean even more heavily on food pantries and food banks.

"I’m very nervous about the impacts of those cuts. I anticipate greater need and greater dependence," she said.

Cox says one consolation is that people are more generous this time of year, and may be more supportive their local food pantry.

Meanwhile, Congress is currently in the process of debating whether to make even bigger cuts to food stamps, also known as the SNAP program.

Conservatives say too many food stamp recipients game the system and become too reliant on government help. The House version of the Farm Bill, which includes the SNAP program, cuts $40 billion from food stamps over five years. The Senate version cuts a tenth of that – $4 billion over five years. The difference is one of the biggest obstacles Congress faces to passing a new Farm Bill.

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