Cuts to impact food assistance program

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When stimulus money used to increase federal food assistance runs out in October, many Valley residents receiving aid will be left with less money in their pockets.

Forty seven million Americans are currently using food stamps and in Ohio there are about 1.8 million. As part of the 2009 economic-stimulus law, federal food assistance increased maximum monthly benefits for food stamp recipients. The funding expires this fall and when that happens, families will see reductions in the amount of money they get from the government each month.

“When our clients get their November allocations, that reduction is probably going to be in there at that time,” said Bob Bush, director of Mahoning County Job and Family Services. “It’s going to impact the families, obviously. It’s going to impact the grocer. That money is spent locally and it’s going to impact the local economy.”

Mahoning County distributes $6 million in food stamp credits each month. That number will be reduced by about $650,000. A family of three could see a reduction of about $29 each month.

The reduction could put a strain on area food banks. Second Harvest Executive Director Michael Iberis said families that have less to spend on food may find themselves going to the pantry if they aren’t already. He said it will be a few months before they will know exactly how the cuts will impact the food distribution service.

“We really, really don’t know. We anticipate an uptick in the number of people coming to the food pantry or kitchen,” said Iberis.

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