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Proposed Cuts Could Devastate CT Food Pantries

November 30, 2011

HARTFORD, Conn. - Hundreds of people are likely to line up for food aid today at the Christian Fellowship Center's Storehouse in Bristol. The folks who stock the shelves there are wondering what will happen to the people in line if proposed cuts to federal food programs are enacted.

Initiatives such as The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) are on the chopping block, facing a possible 43 percent funding cut from Congress. Storehouse director Robert Wilk says it gets more than 70 percent of its food through TEFAP.

"We get, like, 300 families every Wednesday, and if they cut the program back, it's going to be very hard to give the food out to feed a family."

He believes the cuts would result in many more going hungry, as the need continues to grow and the job picture remains bleak.

"That's what will end up happening, because we can't afford to buy all that food - and we did, last year, almost a million pounds of food."

Wilk says the food provided by TEFAP would be very difficult if not impossible to replace.

"And it's great food. It's canned vegetables, they have meats, they have all sorts of stuff."

With the failure of the congressional "super-committee," TEFAP - which is part of the Farm Bill - is back at square-one with no vote in sight.

Those advocating for the cuts say they are still needed to balance the budget, but Wilk counters that if there has been enough money to bail out banks and car companies, there should be enough to ensure that no one goes hungry in the United States.

The food is provided free, Wilk says, with local organizations picking up transportation costs. The TEFAP food distributed by the Storehouse and scores of other pantries in the region comes through the Foodshare organization, which echoes Wilk's concern.

Glen Gardner, Public News Service - CT