Congress' vote to cut food stamps scares N.O. food bank

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wwltv.com

Posted on September 20, 2013 at 5:28 PM

Updated Friday, Sep 20 at 6:15 PM

Bill Capo / Eyewitness News
Email: bcapo@wwltv.com | Twitter: @billcapo

NEW ORLEANS -- The main warehouse at Second Harvest Food Bank is so empty it's scary today.  There are cases of donated soft drinks, but less than half of the nutritious food needed to fill emergency baskets for families across southern Louisiana.

"I'm very frightened, because for the base part, we normally have about two million pounds on hand, but at the present time we're down to about 898,000 pounds at the moment," said Mamie Jackson, Second Harvest warehouse manager.

So when Congress voted to cut $4 billion dollars a year from the nation's food stamp program, it was a shock here.

"This blow is insurmountable, and Second Harvest Food Bank, and its network of 300 food agencies, soup kitchens, pantries, churches, simply can't fill the gap," worried Lisa Abel, Second Harvest Philanthropy head.

They say one in six Louisiana residents struggles with hunger.

"Two income households where someone has lost a job, and it's now one income," explained Abel. "It's families, it's seniors who are having to make tough choices between paying their medical bills, buying medicine, utilities and buying food. It's children who need that daily sustenance."

In the Second Harvest refrigerated warehouse, there's only a few watermelons and and some soft drinks, otherwise the shelves are empty. The stocks are so low just two months before their busiest time, Thanksgiving.

"We need everybody's help as far as giving to the Food Bank so that we'll be able to get the poundage up to be able to feed the people through the Thanksgiving time frame," said Jackson.

They say food stamp budget cuts would be disastrous.

"This is just a devastating, devastating blow, and it does mean that people are going to go hungry," said Abel.
 

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