MIAMI – A town hall meeting hosted by Congresswoman Frederica Wilson on impending cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or food stamp program drew several hundred people.
The Florida Department of Children and Families announced that, effective Nov. 1, benefits will be reduced due to the expiration of increases provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
DFS said benefits for a family of four with no income will get $36 less each month. The amount each eligible household receives depends on factors such as income, household size and expenses. Statewide, 3.6 million people get food stamps, the department said.Wilson’s office estimated that some 700 people attended the meeting Saturday at the Joseph Caleb Center, 5400 NW 22nd Ave. in Liberty City, filling the meeting room and spilling over into the atrium.
Wilson, D-Fla., was joined at the three-hour meeting by representatives of Access Florida, South Florida Work Force, Feeding South Florida, Miami-Dade County, USDA and Farm Share.
Farm Share’s Director of Communications and Development Mia DeVane said with a cut to the SNAP benefits and a rise in food prices, struggling families are going to need Farm Share and their neighborhood food pantries more than ever. “There are so many food insecure folks out there that it’s frightening. At the last Farm Share community food distribution, we had a family wanting to camp out the night before the event just to be sure they got their share of donated food. That’s how bad it is for some people. The economy has supposedly gotten better, but average folks just aren’t feeling it and we are seeing an increase of low-income families in need of food. In fact, Farm Share served a record one million families in need over the past year.”
“Even with SNAP’s assistance, it’s a struggle for many families to put food on the table in these tough economic times. These cuts, which I have strongly opposed in Congress, will cause even more hardship,” Wilson said. “We must work together as a community to ensure that no one goes hungry. We can start by supporting and strengthening our local food banks.” Wilson discussed additional resources available to help the needy, including Feeding South Florida whose Mobile Food Pantry distributed food immediately following the meeting. She joined volunteers handing out the food.
PHOTO COURTESY OF REP. FREDERICA WILSON’S OFFICE
FOOD FOR THE POOR: U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, third from left, joins volunteers handing out food to the needy Saturday at Miami’s Joseph Caleb Center following her town hall meeting on upcoming cuts to the nation’s food stamp program.