Local businesses and citizens react to cuts in food stamp program

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - It's been nearly a month since the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, better known as the Stimulus Program, came to an end.

That has led to a five and a half percent cut in the food stamp program, equaling about 5 billion dollars in spending over the next year.

Fox19 talked to merchants and food stamp recipients to find out how the cut has affected them.

About this time of the month many of the nation's 47 million food stamp recipients often run out of benefits, but Debbie Gannaway of Grandma Debbie's Kitchen at Findlay Market say business is still OK. "I haven't really seen a difference and I think that's largely due to the fact that for our food stamp customers Findlay market is a value location so they're getting good value here so why not spend their food stamps where they get better value than other stores."

Mid to late November is when folks typically shop for thanksgiving. Hannah Luken with Luken's Poultry, Fish and Seafood business is good. "We're always very busy this time of year and as far as food stamp cut backs we haven't seen too many right now, but like I said they're going to be saving them for the next few days with the holidays."

Jeff Gibbs of J. Gibbs Cheese and Sausage says "There's no way to tell at this point because of the holidays and it's too soon."

It may be too soon for merchants, but not for people who depend on food stamps to survive. James Martin collects aluminum cans and scrap metal to supplement his income and he says times are tough. "I'm constantly going to food pantries now at least two to three days out of the week. They cut me from 32 dollars to 28 dollars and I'm barely making it now."

Lenny Polansky says his food stamps don't go far enough. "It's a big cutback, you know what I mean, 11 dollars is a big deal, you know, when you're on a fixed income and for a single person it's still a big cut because that's two dozen eggs and a carton of milk, you know what I mean, and then these families that are getting cut for each person it's even worse. People are disabled. They need this money."

George White says he's begun eating less. "Instead of having a full meal I'm cutting down to like one meal a day, you know, plus milk in the morning and I drink coffee. It's real tough especially not having a job."

Paris Thomas says she has to be a lot more selective when she shops.

"I hope I have enough money to buy what I need to buy, you know, turkeys are like 40-dollars now so I got to budget now.

By cutting food stamp benefits the federal government is saving 93-million dollars in Kentucky and 198-million in Ohio.

With the cut in benefits, area food banks and pantries say they're seeing a greater demand for their services and their resources are being stretched thin.

Copyright 2013 WXIX. All rights reserved