Hoosiers feeling impact of food stamp cuts

The Shepard Community Center may be the only way for some children to get regular meals.
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Federal cuts in the food stamp program are cutting 11 million meals from the tables of central Indiana families and now food pantries are trying to fill the food gap.

Every day there are big smiles and big appetites at the Shepard Community Center. In this neighborhood, preschool administrators say kids typically get only ten good meals a week, with lunch and breakfast here.

"When these kids go home on the weekend, there may or may not be enough food for them on the weekend," said Rex Fishers, Shepard Community Center.

Lines at local food pantries say were getting longer even before the food stamp cuts took effect.

A family of four has about $36 less to spend on groceries.

"It's really bad. By the grace of God I'm getting through," said Brenda Way.

Along with help from food pantries, Brenda Way visits twice a week. Her food stamps were reduced about $20 a month. She says she's gone without meals on occasion.

Charitable organizations are giving away food as fast as it is donated.

Gleaners Food Bank feeds people in 21 counties. The 11 million meals lost to cuts is equal to all the food Gleaners gave away all of last year in Marion County.

Gleaners President and CEO Cindy Hubert says she can't predict if people will go hungry as a result of the cuts, but "we are going to do our darnedest to make sure that doesn't happen."

To fill the food gap, the 23 million pounds of food donated to Gleaners would have to quickly increase by 50 percent.

"We are telling people the lines are getting longer, and we need people to get in line to help us do it. It is going to take funding from the whole community," said Hubert.

A $5 billion supplement to the program triggered by the recession expired Wednesday, meaning there's less money to dole out.

As Thanksgiving approaches, the number of Americans on food stamps is at a record high at 47 million. Congress is now considering additional cuts to the program.

Gleaners - Find out how you can help

Second Helpings

If you're looking for food assistance, you can try contacting the above organizations and also Connect2Help.

See if you qualify for food assistance with the state of Indiana.