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Farm bill cuts billions of dollars to food stamps

By Bo Koltnow, Reporter, BKoltnow@wfmz.com
Published On: Jan 30 2014 05:00:18 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 31 2014 10:31:49 AM CST

Families that rely on food stamps are facing another round of cuts.

NORTHAMPTON, Pa. -

Families that rely on food stamps are facing another round of cuts.

The House of Representatives has passed a compromise farm bill that would slash $8 billion over the next 10 years from the nation's food stamp program.

In Pennsylvania that would amount to $8.6 million over a decade.

Martin Nuscher, head of the Northampton Area Food Bank, knows first hand that every donated can, package and box is a lifeline of sustenance for those in need.

"Over the last year, it's grown. We're seeing more family units come in, people coming in to share household expenses," Nuscher said.

Congress is poised to cut $8 billion from the food stamp program as part of the farm bill.

"Food stamps do not last past the third week of the month, and now they may not last past the second week," Janet Ney of Second Harvest Food Bank said.

Pennsylvania will be hit especially hard because it's one of 15 "Heat and Eat" states, which offer food stamp reimbursements for low income families receiving heating assistance.

The program would be cut.

"$65 is the average cut they'll be facing. But I spoke to a woman who receives $755 for Social Security and she would be facing $136 in cuts to her monthly food stamp benefit,"Julie Zaebst, of advocacy group Coalition Against Hunger, said.

The group says one in 10 residents in Northampton County already receive food stamps. In Lehigh County it's one in seven.

Those involved with food banks, like Nuscher, are battling stagnant state funding, dwindling donations, and increased demand.

"It's challenging. It's worrisome because how do we get more food for those who are going to be impacted by this?" he said.

The Pennsylvania Senate still has to approve the bill.

On Sunday beginning at noon, the Northampton Area Food Bank is having its bingo fundraiser at the Good Catholic School gym.