A significant number of New Yorkers will feel the effects of food stamp cuts later this year when the new farm bill goes into effect. The newly signed bill ushers in $8 billion in cuts to food stamps. Arlene Borenstein filed the following report.
Jennifer Almanzar is a young mother of two. She depends on money from a federal program to help feed her 9-month-old and 6-year-old, but cuts to the program are on the way and she says sacrifices will have to come with it.
"Eating less obviously, doing more trips by foot, obviously because I don't have any money, to supermarkets to see which ones are, what food is on sale, what is convenient to buy,” said Almanzar.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, is a nationwide food stamp program.
But a new farm bill, signed by President Barack Obama, cuts $8 billion of funding for the program. Opponents say the most vulnerable New Yorkers will suffer, losing on average $90 a month.
“Here in New York this farm bill is going to take food away from hundreds of thousands of families, with a particularly negative impact on people with disabilities, people living in public housing, senior citizens,” said Joel Berg of the NYC Coalition Against Hunger.
People shopping at a Bronx food pantry known as Part of The Solution, or POTS, say the cuts could be devastating.
"If I didn't have that food, my family would starve to death and I don't want that to happen,” said Bronx resident Xitlaly Santos.
“Even if you're employed, most people still not making living wage, so it's going to be tough for anybody who's not making a substantial amount, to put food on the table, so programs like this are very beneficial,” said Bronx resident Alfred Gaskins.
The latest cuts are not the first for SNAP. Another round happened in November. Then, POTS' food pantry saw a spike in visitors.
“In our 32 history we've seen more people than ever in 2013,” said Christopher Bean, executive director of POTS.
Employees at POTS say those cuts could mean tougher decisions like buying lower cost food, that's not as nutritious.
“We're trying to make sure that we not only provide meals, but that we provide healthy meals. So it gets harder for you to maintain that and try to teach people how to eat when you are also being forced to make different decisions based on your cost value,” said POTS employee Taina Rodriguez.
The cuts will take effect in six months, leaving that much time for families and those who operate food pantries to figure out, how to make do.