Food Pantries Prepare For Food Stamp Cutbacks

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BLOOMSBURG -- Food banks in our area are bracing for greater need starting this Friday.

We told you Monday that the federal government plans to cut some funding for the food stamp program. Nearly two million Pennsylvanians stand to get less money.

We talked to volunteers at a food pantry in Bloomsburg about the potential impact there.

The Bloomsburg Food Cupboard helps feed more than 500 families a week in Columbia County. Some are on food stamps; many are not.

But with the federal government planning to cut the amount food stamp recipients get per month, this place expects regular customers to need more help and families who don't come here now to start.

"For a family of four, it's a loss of $36 which doesn't seem like that much until you quantify it in terms of food and this could be the difference for those families," said Martha Sheehe.

Food cupboard coordinator Martha Sheehe says the pantry is preparing to help however it needs to, if those on food stamps realize their monthly allowance isn't enough.

"I always say this isn't rocket science. This is rationing. We'll ration for as long as we can and then we'll yell 'Help!'"

And she says the Bloomsburg community always answers when this place has more need.

"They are very generous to us. We have local businesses that give on a weekly basis, give to the point that we have excess and give multiple times during a week," said food cupboard worker Gail Shifflett.

Those who rely on the food cupboard count on those donations and certainly hope the food stamp cuts don't cause extra strain here.

James McCullough is responsible for feeding his grandchildren.

"This place is tremendous and the people who run it they need medals from God."

"It's a big assistance.  I'm glad they have it," said another person.

Volunteers say those in need shouldn't worry. They say these food stamp cutbacks actually come at a good time.

"That's the good thing about this, at Thanksgiving and Christmas people are very generous. Schools have food drives, offices have food drives so in terms of supply, grocery stores have good sales, this is a good time of year for us to stock up," Sheehe said.

"We seem to always have enough.  The oil jar doesn't seem to run dry," Shifflett added.

Congress could prevent these cuts to the food stamp program if it takes action to stop it by the end of the week, but that doesn't look likely.

It is all part of the farm bill currently being debated in Washington.


  • ME

    One more thing: I think these pantries and churches would be better off making people prove they have low income, so that those who truly need help, have it. I know someone who is on disability, but between that and his pension, he makes $4000/month. Yet he’s always going to churches to get free food. I called him on it, once, but he said he likes doing it and has a right to do it. It’s a shame, the way people scam the system and take from those who really need it.

  • ME

    Instead of making cuts and hurting people who really need help, this government should implement strategies to cut back on fraud, get the able-bodies working and stop letting people buy beer and cigarettes, using taxpayer money. I heard they are thinking of reducing welfare to five years, which is too generous in my opinion, but hopefully, it will cut back on people having children in order to stay on welfare.

  • C

    Those complaining about what people buy should look in the mirror because God could make them a welfare recipient at any given time. What would you do if you didn’t have your guilty pleasure? Probably go nuts! Stop giving people a hard time times are bad as it is! Reflect on your own family and make God proud and be of service to others!

  • Kathleen Penles

    In the Harrisburg area, food banks get large food donations from the major grocery chains (Giant, Weis, Wegmans, etc.). Do the food banks in the Bloomsburg-Berwick area do this? If not, they should look into it. As for the other comments, yes there are abusers in every government program. However, for the working poor food stamps help put food on the table. The same goes for senior citizens on low incomes. You never know when you might be in the same boat as these people.

  • Geary

    I get sick when cut backs are in effect. There is no reason if they would only stop these people using their access cars for JUNK FOOD. People use the access card to buy things like cupcakes, soda, ice cream, chips, and candy to name a few. As tax payers we should have our Congressmen, and Senate members put a stop to abusing the system and use the card for real food not junk food.

  • Sue

    Maybe some of those people should prepare their own meals instead of buying processed and packaged meals with the food stamps. I see way too many buying frozen meals with them anymore. Save some cash and make them from scratch!

    • ana

      I agree. I make my own fresh vegetables, beans and rice, peanut butter sandwiches and pasta. all very inexpensive food items. I have never been on food stamps and yet I see those who are on them, do buy the more expensive prepared foods and loads of meat and dairy, which is unhealthy,spoils fast and most likely gets wasted. Americans need more nutrition training in basic food items.

      • ME

        Yes, I knew a woman who basically spent her whole life on welfare. Kept having children. Her frig was always stacked to the hilt. I used to scrounge around for food back then, and I was working.

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