National Edition

Food stamp cuts leave many Thanksgiving dinners feeling thin

Published: Monday, Nov. 25 2013 3:35 p.m. MST

Volunteer Laura Vidrine stocks a food box in the pantry at Joshua's Storehouse on Friday afternoon in Casper. Food pantries for the needy around the state are experiencing a rise in demand as welfare benefits are cut back.

Dan Cepeda, Star-Tribune

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Because of $5 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as the food stamp program, Thanksgiving dinner could be smaller for the 42 million Americans utilizing the safety net program this holiday season, according to the Huffington Post.

The number of food stamp dependants has grown steadily since 2007, with a total overall increase of 70 percent, according to the Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group.

"The boost in food stamp use is just one indicator of how many Americans will be struggling to have a good Thanksgiving meal this year, especially given the fact that the average person on food stamps has a budget of just $1.00 to $1.25 per meal," the Huffington Post reported.

According to an MSNBC article, food banks across the nation are seeing increased numbers this Thanksgiving.

"Food pantries around the country are reporting a precipitous rise in the number of new visitors as people who were previously able to make do on food stamps get hit with cuts they can’t afford," MSNBC reported.

CBS Boston reports that in Framingham, Mass., food bank patron requests have increased 400 percent this year.

“These are folks you wouldn’t normally expect to be needing help. On top of those always in need, it’s a big group and a big deal,” said Paul Mina president of United Way Tri-County, which runs the food pantry, according to CBS.

The average cost for a Thanksgiving meal is almost $50, the Huffington Post reported.

But recent statistics show food expenses are just as trying without the presence of the holidays.

"In northern states, expenses generally increase during the winter months as heating bills rise. A 2010 survey by the Feeding America food bank network found nearly half of its clients — 46 percent, to be exact — had at one point been forced to choose between paying for food and paying for utilities," according to MSNBC.

Email: ebuchanan@deseretnews.com, Twitter: emmiliewhitlock

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