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NY Bracing for Impact of SNAP Cuts

Photo: The Harry Chapin Food Bank in Hauppauge, NY, is readying for the impact of a November cut in SNAP or food stamp benefits. Courtesy Long Island Cares.
Photo: The Harry Chapin Food Bank in Hauppauge, NY, is readying for the impact of a November cut in SNAP or food stamp benefits. Courtesy Long Island Cares.
November 21, 2013

HAUPPAGE, N.Y. - SNAP benefits, formerly known as food stamps, were cut starting this month, when an emergency boost in funding during the recession expired. That's a decrease of $36 a month for four-person families, and community food pantries are readying for a rush as a result.

Paule Pachter oversees operation of the Harry Chapin Food Bank, Hauppauge. He said the work his organization does is supposed to be a temporary stopgap measure for people whose fortunes have turned.

"However," Pachter explained, "as a result of the economy and unemployment, and the high cost of living on Long Island, a majority of the people are coming to the pantries and soup kitchens in order to be maintained."

Pachter is dismayed that congressional Republicans, in an effort to decrease government spending, are proposing up to $40 billion more in SNAP cuts.

The Harry Chapin Food Bank was founded in 1980 by the late singer-songwriter and anti-hunger activist, who died in a car accident in 1981. Pachter wondered what Chapin would think today about 11 percent of the population on Long Island, some 300,000 people, being considered hungry or food-insecure.

"He was a tremendous advocate for social justice. And although he only had 38 years of doing it, he made it his life's work to end hunger," Pachter said.

It's too soon to measure the effects of the SNAP cuts that started this month, but Pachter fears the worst.

"We're certainly concerned, like any other organization that feeds the hungry is, that it's going to diminish a person's ability to put enough food on their table," he said.

More than 3 million New Yorkers are enrolled in SNAP. This month's cuts are estimated to result in 20.6 million fewer meals.

More information is available at wwwlicares.org.

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NY