Families Struggle Following Food Stamp Cuts

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Just less than three weeks after the Federal government made billions of dollars in cuts to the SNAP program, families around the region are struggling to cope.

"I told them we have to tighten our belts up a little bit," Russell Spears said.

Spears' family is one of thousands throughout our region now feeling the impact of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit cuts.

"I didn't even know they would get cut until I got my food stamps," Spears said. "It was like from $560 to $380."

Spears is not alone. 291,000 food stamp recipients are affected by the cuts in West Virginia alone. While it varies family-to-family, benefits have generally decreased by about $36 per month for a family of four.

"You can't afford to eat the way you should eat," Tabatha Norman said. "You can't afford the food. The cost of milk and everything has went up."

Norman is also now dealing with the issue, but it is the children affected by the recent cuts that have her worried.

"We're taking it one day at a time," Norman said. "But people that have children, what are they supposed to do?"

But there are organizations willing to help. Sidney Polan is a case worker at Information & Referral at the Huntington Library. She's working to help families now dealing with the SNAP benefit cuts.

"We understand that this is a personal stress, but we also have answers for people," Polan said. "It's a hit to the budget without any question, but people on SNAP benefits, as well as everyone else in this economy, have to be very cautious of what they spend."

Polan says there are plenty of places for families to turn.

"We have a community, I think, that's very responsive to this situation," Polan said. "And we have a food bank [Huntington Area Food Bank] that really does it's job.

Polan says it's important families know help is available.

"We're going to make it through this," Polan said. "You learn to cope. You learn to stretch, and when you're in a pinch, there's someone that would probably be glad to help you, and we'd be glad to get you in touch with that group,"

For more information, you can try Information and Referral at the Huntington Library at 304-528-5660. They specialize helping people and families in Cabell and Wayne Counties in West Virginia, but say they will try to assist you no matter where you are located. You can also try calling 211 or stop by your local food bank.

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