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N.H. Food Bank Expects To Fill Gap If Congress Cuts Food Stamps

Ryan Lessard

The New Hampshire Food Bank has been struggling to keep up with the demand of a growing number of residents. And these challenges might be compounded by budget cuts proposed by Congress.At the state’s Food Bank in Manchester, volunteers are sorting and shipping food as quickly as they receive it.

Melanie Gosselin, the Director of the New Hampshire Food Bank says distribution is up 10% from last year but they’re still only scratching the surface.

“Well, regularly we never have enough food to really meet the needs here in New Hampshire. With 143,000 people in food insecurity, meaning they don’t know where their next meal is coming from, it puts a lot of pressure on us to try to meet their needs.”

That’s nearly one in every nine people in the state and the number is growing. Gosselin says the budget debates on Capitol Hill will likely add to the problem.

“It’s almost like a perfect storm if you think about it. More need, less resources, higher food cost, higher fuel cost. And unfortunately we don’t see an end in the near future.”

That’s because the food stamp program is facing cuts. And the Food Bank has already felt the pressure to step in where federal programs are falling behind, according to Gosselin.

“What we know is, on average, most folks that are participating in the program run out of food by week two or three because they run out of resources. So, we’re really trying to fill those voids.”

The food stamp program officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, is exempt from the automatic and across-the-board cuts known as sequestration. Other food assistance programs like WIC, however, are not. But as Congress looks to find other, less extreme ways to reduce the deficit, lawmakers have proposed finding those savings in cuts to food stamps as part of the farm bill.

That means the SNAP program will likely face proposed cuts.

Gosselin says that, as things stand already, only about 70% of eligible people in New Hampshire are participating in food stamps and those who are… receive about $4.50 a day on average.

“When decisions are made around the farm bill and other policies, the folks we’re serving, the most vulnerable, will be the last to see a change in the economy. So we’re in it for the long haul.”

To donate to the New Hampshire Food Bank, visit http://nhfoodbank.org/

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