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Food stamp cuts impact C. Oregon food banks

By Alicia Inns
Published On: Oct 29 2013 09:09:55 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 30 2013 02:21:53 PM CDT

It might 'just' be $30 a month in cuts to families that depend on food stamps -- but Central Oregon food banks know it will put more pressure on serving, often with dwindling supplies

BEND, Ore. -

Here's a figure: 808,244 -- that's the number of Oregonians on food stamps.

Many will see their payment drop roughly $30 a month by the end of the week, with the end of the stimulus package.

High Desert food banks are bracing for a surge in requests from families impacted by the snap benefit reductions.

"We're finding the working poor, the people working 20 hours a week, now need some agency in order to get by," Bill Parks, director of St. Vincent de Paul, a non-profit social service agency in Bend, said Tuesday.

Parks is concerned to make ends meet, many of those people on food stamps will turn to them for help -- and they won't be able to deliver.

"Through that food pantry, we provide 25,000 meals on an average every month for 620 families," he said. "Now we're planning for at least a 10 percent increase because of food stamps, because of the slow job growth rate here and the increased cost of food."

Beans, pasta and peanut butter are just some of the foods people in need get from area food banks -- but with an increase in demand, the shelves could run bare.

"We're back to the last box of crackers or last bag of chips or whatever we are giving out -- yeah, there have been quite a few close calls," Parks said.

NeighborImpact's food bank is also expecting an increase in demand. That's bad news when the shelves are nearly empty, and November and December are already the food bank's busiest months, because of the holidays.

"People are going to want to go to the pantries more when they have less money to spend at the grocery stores," said Sandy Klein with NeighborImpact, a 21 Cares for Kids partner.

With cuts coming from Washington, officials hope the community steps up sooner rather than later.

"This isn't just the people living on the streets --everybody in this community needs some help," Parks said.

Nationally, $5 billion is being trimmed from the $80 billion food stamp program's budget.  The money was added in 2009 to help offset impacts of the recession.

To help or to learn more: http://stvincentbend.org/ and http://www.neighborimpact.org/

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