While many in the agriculture community were celebrating the passage of the Farm Bill this month, those who rely on food assistance benefits to survive were worrying about what it means for them. Our Elyse Mickalonis tells us what effect these cuts could have, and what local charities are doing to prepare.
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- "I have dialysis three times a week, you know? And I can't possibly hold a full time job and if I work part time I'll be less than 100 percent, that wouldn't be fair to an employer,” said Jesse Chitty, Binghamton Resident.
Jesse Chitty is one of the millions of people receiving snap benefits. His $100 a month allowance was cut last November to just $80. Now, he splits that money down the middle between groceries and meals on wheels.
"I have diabetes, I have high blood pressure and I'm in end stage renal failure.
All three of those are special diet illnesses,” said Chitty.
But now, more cuts are in the works. With the passage of the Farm Bill this month, also came plans to cut $8.7 billion from SNAP, a move that’s got local organizations gearing up for the rise in need.
"We’re taking a proactive approach to that we know that we have a limited amount of money we can spend on food and we want to make sure the food is getting into the hand of people who need it,” said Kathy Pfaffenbach, Catholic Charities Emergency Assistance Supervisor.
Catholic Charities Emergency Assistance in Binghamton is now asking people eighteen years and older to bring in a piece of mail or a prescription bottle from the last 30 days with a current address on it so they can prioritize their distribution. A change that came after the November cuts which officials say impacted people on a limited income. This time around they believe low-income families and seniors will be hit the hardest.
"The average cut that they're proposing, or that was passed, is $90 per household. $90 to a lot of us, may not seem like an awful lot of money for a month, but for a family that's a tremendous blow. And especially for our seniors who are already just receiving a few dollars, that might mean their food stamps are going away,” said Pfaffenbach.
A scary thought for those who rely on SNAP benefits. And for Chitty who truly needs them to survive.
"I lean on God to give me what I need to survive on a daily basis and that's what gets me through the day. I'm still alive, so that's a plus,” said Chitty.
The Farm Bill cuts total $8.7 billion over the next 10 years.