By Paula Walter
People across the nation who receive assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, saw a 5.4 percent reduction of benefits that began on November 1, 2013. The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus plan that gave the program additional monies has now ended. In Tennessee alone, there are approximately 1,300,000 men, women and children who receive food assistance.
For a household of four, new SNAP benefits will decrease for those receiving the maximum monthly benefit from $668 a month to $632, a difference of $36. While it doesnt seem like a huge amount, that money could feed a family for several days. For a family of one, their benefit will decrease from $200 to $189 per month.
Those who receive SNAP benefits are not just those who are unemployed, but often they are the working poor who need that additional boost to make ends stretch to the next payday. Close to 48,000,000 Americans across the country receive food assistance. This breaks down to one in seven who count on the government for help feeding themselves or their families. More than 16,000,000 children are living in homes where access to food is often a struggle. Without the support of food banks to supplement the money received from SNAP, many go to bed hungry.
While most of the local food banks have restrictive hours and are open limited times during the month, the demand on the food banks that have remained open in Johnson County has increased lately. Currently, St. Anthonys Catholic Church, located at 833 W. Main Street, distributes food on the first and third Thursdays of the month from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. For more information, call 423-727-5156. First Christian Church at 410 W. Main Street is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm. They are closed for lunch from 12:00 pm until 1:00 pm. They can be reached at 423-727-9151. Hales Ministries is open Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:00 am and 12:00 pm. Their number is 423-727-1521. If you are interested in assisting fellow Johnson Countians, contact any of the local food banks to see how you can help.
By Paula Walter