A part of the 2009 Federal Stimulus that boosted funding to the food stamp program is ending, which means millions of families will see fewer benefits. The cuts are sending many of those families to food pantries.
On food pantry days, the line at the Lancaster County Council of Churches already wraps around the block. With Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits reduced beginning November 1st, the lines will only get longer.
“We did get a lot of calls today, where we were located, and as you can see it’s wrapped around the building sometimes,” said Virginia Striver, intake services coordinator at Lancaster County Council of Churches. “So it’s sad.”
Melissa and Tony Stahl of Ephrata are some of the new people in need of food from the pantry. The couple have struggled since they were both laid off this year. The cut to their food stamps was an added blow.
“I never thought I would be back in this situation,” Melissa Stahl said. “And I feel bad coming here, in a sense, because I feel there are people here who need it more than me, although my cupboards are bare.”
Even before the government cut SNAP benefits, this food pantry has been busier than ever.
“We probably give away five to six to 7,000 dollars worth of food a day currently,” said Rev. Scott Fisher, executive director of the Lancaster County Council of Churches. “Unprecedented.”
On average, a family of four can expect to see their benefits cut by $36 each month. It may not sound like a lot, but for some families, it is crippling.
“We would have no food if it wasn’t for this,” Stahl said. “So I’m grateful for people who donate to give people with less, food.”
For a list of food pantries in Lancaster County, click here.
You can find the food pantry closest to you by calling 2-1-1.