Families In Need Taking a Hit Come Nov. 1st

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Fri, October 25 2013 at 5:50 PM, Updated: Mon, October 28 2013 at 5:54 PM

In just a week, people who need help putting food on the table will get less of it on November 1st.

That's because a recession-time boost to Oregon's food stamp program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP, is running out.

The news is adding insult to injury for many families struggling to get by.

"It's been really difficult," said Tifini Wright, a single working mom supporting two young children.

"I'm really scared when they say they're going to start cutting things [...] I use all of the money that I receive for my SNAP benefits. So when they make those cuts, it's felt. It reverberates out," said Wright.

Those cuts to Oregon's food stamp program are coming up on November 1st.

"People are going to see [...] $36 per family decrease and that can mean quite a lot to a family that's struggling to make ends meet for the whole month," said Philip Yates, the Nutritional Programs Director at ACCESS.

It's not good when in July, ACCESS saw their busiest month ever.

"We hit over 4000 families in one month, which we've never done before," said Yates.

"Poverty levels in Oregon are at 17.5% compared to the national average of about 15%," he continued.

If more people come to access as a result of the cuts to SNAP benefits, Yates said he doesn't think ACCESS will be able to adequately provide for everyone, but they will still try.

According to Yates, it's fortunate that the holidays are around the corner, since it's the time of year people typically give the most. The real struggle may come in January or February 2014, when the holiday giving dwindles.

For family advocates struggling to find more resources to fill the void, it's not good news.

"As a family advocate, our job is to help these families find resources. They're already utilizing the resources that are available, and then to have a chunk of their food stamp money taken away is just...it's just devastating," said Ginny Miller, Family Advocate for Southern Oregon Headstart.

"These families are already utilizing services that are there, and now they have even less, so they're going to need more. Where is that going to come from?" asked Miller.

Contrary to popular belief, Miller says most families in need are working families. She said many of them feel as if they're being penalized for working hard and trying to make the best of their situations. According to Miller, if a person has a job where they earn above the poverty threshold, they won't qualify for other types of assistance, even if the amount of money the make isn't enough to cover necessities like childcare, rent or food.

"It's like a 'catch-22' for the families that are really struggling to get ahead," said Miller.

Yates also added that while many people believe families in need are taking advantage of the system, it's just not true.

"Maybe 4-5% of the people are manipulating the system," he said.
Most people really do need the help.

Meanwhile, for Tifini Wright, the single mom we spoke with who runs a daycare for other struggling single moms, said she's planning to rely a bit more on her church and food banks in the area.

What do you think? Sound off on our Facebook page and on Twitter, or leave a comment below.

About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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