As food stamps get slashed, White Center Food Bank feels the squeeze
On July 1, Washington State cut benefits in half to all legal immigrants signed up for FAP, the state’s food assistance program for those who don’t qualify for the federal version (SNAP), according to the Department of Social and Health Services.
For White Center, a community with a significant immigrant population - many struggling in these tough economic times – those cuts lead directly to greater dependence on the White Center Food Bank, according to Ann Kendall, the program’s spokesperson.
Couple that summertime explosion of increased need with a traditional dip in food bank donations during the hotter months, and things are bound to get tight.
“FAP benefits were cut by 50 percent – this is tough for families in our service area given our demographic,” Kendall said. “For those families barely getting by with FAP, we become their source of assistance.”
Recent local statistics and breaking news at the federal level also stir reason for concern.
Kendall said food donations are down 100,000 pounds this year compared to last, and they have needed to serve 64,279 individuals from June 30, 2011 to June 30, 2012 – similar numbers to what they’ve seen since our economy took the big hit (so while some report the economy is improving, food bank need speaks to continued struggles). In comparison, Kendall said the food bank served 48,000 individuals over the same period in 2005.
Federally, the U.S. House Agriculture Committee passed a version of the Farm Bill on July 12 that proposes $16 billion in cuts to SNAP, the federal food stamp program, over the next ten years. The bill will head to the floor soon for a full debate. Kendall said Washington has 1 million people on SNAP, and two-thirds of those are families with children.
Lump onto all of that the loss of $1.2 million in funding from FEMA to King County food banks last year, and it is clear times are tough for our local providers.
“Last year we weathered substantial government funding cuts ourselves,” Kendall said. “It is important to note that this is money we would have used to buy milk, eggs and other protein sources that are not donated. Thankfully local donations helped cover this loss, but as you can see the deeper the cuts go, the more we have to rally – from both sides whether bringing in more funding and food (or) serving a larger population as benefits are cut.”
How to help out
On August 4 from 11 – 2 p.m., “we are hosting an open house and a party for our resident hens, the Henriettas,” Kendall said. “We'll have information on how to volunteer (we always need people to keep our operation running and people to host food drives), tours of our facilities and gardens. We'll be launching Team Henrietta, a way to assist us in providing eggs to all our clients.”
The donated Henriettas each produce one egg each day, Kendall said, so their contribution is more symbolic than utilitarian as WCFB tries to send every hungry individual on their way with at least a dozen eggs.
The food bank is also holding their 8th Annual Harvest Dinner and Auction on October 20 at the South Seattle Community Center Brockey Center.
If you have donations to drop off, WCFB is located at 10829 8th Ave S.W. in White Center.