PITTSBURGH - Now that the Thanksgiving spread has been
cleared in homes and soup kitchens around the state, what's next for
Pennsylvanians who face food insecurity on a daily basis?
The concern now runs
deeper in the wake of this month's reductions in food stamp or SNAP benefits
through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Ken Regal is
executive director of Just Harvest, a group dedicated to fighting hunger in and
"It's easy for
us to be mindful about our neighbors' lack of food at the holidays," he
says. "But these cuts are going to be true in December, in January, in
February, in March, and on and on."
Regal notes it's a
critical time for SNAP. The Congressional Conference Committee is weighing
relatively modest cuts to food stamps in the Senate version of the Farm Bill,
against unprecedented cuts being proposed in the House.
Benefits amounts were
cut because a temporary increase enacted during the recession expired.
Regal says many
Pennsylvanians who suffered most in that time period still haven't recovered -
and now, that additional benefit amount they've relied on has disappeared.
comfort to somebody who might have just started receiving food stamps in July,
to tell them, 'Oh, this isn't really a cut, it's just an expiration of an
increase in benefits from 2009,'" he points out.
Regal says the SNAP
reductions that kicked in Nov. 1 are costing a family of four in Pennsylvania
roughly $36 less a month in benefits.
The USDA estimates
that's enough to feed one of those family members for about a week.