Food Stamp Cuts Kick In Right Before Thanksgiving

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    NEWSLETTERS

    More than two million low-income Illinois residents who receive food stamps will soon see their benefits cut. Beginning Friday, a temporary increase in food stamp dollars from the 2009 economic stimulus will expire. Nesita Kwan has reaction from those who use the program. (Published Friday, Nov 1, 2013)

    While most Americans are loading up on food in preparation for Thanksgiving Thursday, many less fortunate are learning how to make do with less.

    More than 2 million low-income Illinois residents receive food stamps, and will be affected by the benefit cuts on Tuesday. Of that number, 349,000 are seniors and 886,000 are children.

    According to the Agriculture Department, the benefit cuts will break down to $36 a month less for a family of four.

    The 2009 stimulus temporary increase in food stamp dollars expires on Tuesday, leaving millions of people who depend on the stamps or SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), with even less support.

    That's why some places, like Chicago's Sanctuary Church, weren't waiting until Thanksgiving to reach out to families in need. Pastor Virgil Jones arranged to feed 150 families on Tuesday and planned to give away more than 300 turkeys.

    "It's really heartbreaking, and you see on television people in other countries with children that don't have food to eat, but right here in our community and our neighborhood, we have hungry children, we have seniors that's eating cat food," Jones said.

    Gov. Pat Quinn was among those at the Chicago Food Depository Monday, encouraging all people in the state to give something back. He says this year will be even harder for some families because of the expiration of

    "I feel that those cutbacks in food stamps was very shortsighted, and they need to be reversed, and we don't want to see further cutbacks in food stamps," Quinn said. "In whatever town or whatever neighborhood. we want to make sure we are there to help feed the hungry."

    Kate Maehr, the executive director and CEO of the depository, agrees the need is at an all-time high.

    "One in six people don't know where they are going to get their next meal," Maehr said. "The challenge is, you don't walk down the street and immediately know who the hungry person is. It might be your neighbor it might be a child in your child's classroom, but its one in six people here in Cook County."

    An estimated 47 million Americans will feel the effects of the cuts.