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Food Banks Face Challenge as Federal Cuts, Holidays Approach

WESTERVILLE (Lu Ann Stoia) Central Ohio food pantries are bracing for more clients as Friday was the first day federal food stamp benefits are being cut across the country. 

At Westerville Area Resource Ministry (WARM), volunteers were grateful to receive 3,000 pounds of food from an Otterbein University food drive. They know the already busy pantry will be more so as cold weather and the holidays are upon us.

Elsie Hunt, a Westerville mother of four, said she and her husband both work but cannot make enough to make ends meet.  Their four-year-old daughter, Bailee, takes special medicine that costs $900 a month. So when their food stamps were cut in half, they didnt want to choose between putting meals on the table and prescriptions.  Now they will need to get help from WARM.

I think hunger was already an issue, Hunt said. Now we are just creating a bigger monster.

WARMs Operations Manager Deb Wallace said one in three Westerville children do not know where they will be getting their next meal. 

Washington is not in touch with what is going on in everyday families, said Wallace. 

Ohio Job and Family Services said 25 percent of food stamp recipients are employed or live in a household where someone is employed.  In 2012, Ohio distributed $3 billion in food stamps.

Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, who heads the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, said the states charities and food pantries will struggle to come up with another $190 million in food to replace the cuts in federal aid.

We are seeing our government be penny wise, and pound foolish, Hamler-Fugitt said. 

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