TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) – Since Nov. 1 about $1.5 million in food stamps have not come to Tippecanoe County. Five billion dollars were cut from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP. That means, for the whole year $3 million in assistance will not come to the county.
“We cannot absorb a $1.5 million food stamp cut,” Lafayette Urban Ministry executive director Joe Micon said. “No human service organization in our community can do that.”
Micon has seen the effects of the cuts.
In the first quarter of 2014 the Saint John’s/LUM Food Pantry’s traffic increased by five percent. The LUM Good Samaritan Fund has seen usage rise 12 percent, and the organization’s homeless shelter has seen a seven percent increase.
Micon attributes these increases to the SNAP cuts.
“When people get cut in their food budgets they have to rob Peter to pay Paul in order to make ends meet,” Micon said. “They will cut back on rent. They will cut back on other types of transportation needs.”
Food Finders Food Bank executive director Katy Bunder has also seen lines grow at mobile food pantries since November. She expects the lines to keep growing once school is out for the summer.
“In the summer months families have to provide ten more meals per child per week,” Bunder said. “That’s when we see the most need.”
To meet the need, Micon and Bunder agreed they need to make food pantries accessible more often.
“On June 1 of this year [the Saint John's/LUM Food Pantry] will begin opening on Saturday afternoons beginning at 1 p.m.,” Micon said.
“We’re going to continue to do everything we do,” Bunder said. “We are trying to add and coordinate with other organizations to put a food pantry downtown that has longer hours.”
Bunder said those plans are not final, but she expects them to be soon.