Food banks fight against food stamp cuts
Here at one of the largest food banks in the country in one of the poorest urban communities in the U.S., food is stacked high to the three-story ceiling in a warehouse that’s twice the size of a football field. Bins the size of small cars hold cans of soup and slightly smashed boxes of muffin mix. Even kale chips are plentiful.
But it’s still not enough to feed everyone who needs it. Through a network of pantries, community centers and schools, the food bank provides more than 50 million meals in Northeast Ohio each year, serving about a third of the 620,000 people across six counties who are eligible for help.
And now, the Greater Cleveland Food Bank and many others across the country are worried that looming federal spending decisions could expose them to even greater demand, so they are gearing up for what may be one of the fall’s most intense, though under-the-radar, budget battles as Congress returns from recess this week.
Lawmakers are considering making $10 billion in mandatory cuts from agriculture programs over a decade, and anti-hunger groups expect most, if not all, of that could come from federal food stamp benefits, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Advocates fear it would only be the beginning. A separate — though far less likely — piece of the GOP budget calls for $150 billion in cuts to the program over the next decade.
“We do a wonderful job, but SNAP feeds so many more people,” said Kristin Warzocha, CEO of the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.