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3.2M Floridians prepare for drastic cuts in SNAP benefits

Seniors and children to be most severely-impacted by ‘food insecurity’ in state

D. Kevin McNeir | 9/5/2013, 9 a.m.
An estimated 3.2 million men, women and children in Florida will see a reduction in their SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance ...

An estimated 3.2 million men, women and children in Florida will see a reduction in their SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program], formerly referred to as Food Stamps, on November 1st, equating to around $5M by the end of 2014 to once-eligible households in the State. SNAP provides over 46 million low-income participants in the U.S. and 3.2 million in Florida, with monthly benefits via a grocery debit card.

Florida hunger statistics

Total food insecurity rate (availability of food and one's access to it): 17 percent

Total number of food insecure people: 3.1 million

Total child food insecurity rate: 28 percent

Florida’s biggest counties (number, percentage of food insecure people)

l Dade County: 432,990 people, 17.6 percent

l Broward County: 281,480 people, 16 percent

l Orange County: 180,470 people, 17 percent

l Duval County: 154,800 people, 18 percent

l Hillsborough, 200,590 people, 17.2 percent

Food insecurity in the U.S.

Nearly 49 million people in the U.S. are food insecure, about 1-in-6 Americans

16 million children are food insecure, more than 1-in-5 children

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SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance

Program], formerly Food Stamps. SNAP provides over 46 million low-income participants, more than 2.6 million in Florida, with monthly benefits via a grocery debit card.

Even more tragic than the cuts which many families and individuals can ill afford is the fact that many people don’t even realize that the cuts are scheduled to take place.

“Many of the people we serve don’t even know this is about to happen and there’s really nothing we can do about it,” said Laverne Elie, executive director, Curley’s House. “We aren’t sure how this will impact our community but we know it’s not going to be good. We are currently feeding 400 people a day — and we are seeing a lot more new clients — sometimes as high as 150 on any given day. As for the cuts, we have some seniors that we provide food to who are only getting $17/day in SNAP benefits. What can you buy for $17 dollars in the grocery store? The elderly are going to be the ones who are hit the hardest — any many of them live alone and don’t have family to look after them. We’re really concerned about what the future holds for them — and for children too.”

Stepping up to the plate

Lorenzo G. Johnson, Jr., minister of Evangelism, Outreach and Missions at New Birth Baptist Church, agrees that more work will fall on the shoulders of local non-profit organizations and churches when the cuts kick in. He currently oversee a program that provides over 300 hot meals per month along with an additional 150 bags of groceries.

“Most of the families we serve come from Overtown but we are seeing people in need come from Little Haiti, Opa-locka and North Miami,” he said. “Sometimes the lines get so long that we run out of food — it’s happened several times lately. And the families from Little Haiti have the greatest need because you aren’t eligible for any form of government assistance until you have been in the U.S. for at least two years.”