Less food stamp benefits but greater demand

Reported by: Erik Avanier
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Updated: 11/06/2013 6:50 pm
CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee(WDEF) - Chattanooga mayor Andy Berke and his staff are pledging to live off of $4.80 per day for food in an effort to highlight the struggle many people face now that food stamp benefits have been slashed by 5-percent.

Berke recently ate lunch with children who come from homes where three square meals a day isn't always guaranteed. His goal was to bring attention to the problems of living on a food stamp program in which benefits were recently reduced to about $30.80 a week per person.

"And so what I want to do this week is buy living off of $4.40 a day to highlight the struggles so many people face," Berke said.

But there's a bigger picture to explore. Nearly 23-percent of the state population struggles to put food on the table. In Hamilton county alone more than 50,000 people are considered food insecure.

"That means that they don't have enough to eat to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle and of that 15,000 are children this is unacceptable," said Food Bank president Maeghan Jones.

The Chattanooga Food Bank works with more than 300 partners in 20 counties and the demand for their services is increasing.

"We're all anticipating an increase in demand for food assistance as the SNAP benefits have decreased," Jones said.

Adding to that demand are many parents who were once financially stable but are now struggling to feed their children.

"Many of these people are coming for help for the first time and it takes a lot of courage to do that. It's difficult to walk in and ask for help when you've never had to do that in your life," Jones said.

And now we've reached the time of year when there's so much focus on holiday meals.

"It's more poignant around the holidays because it's hard to think of going through the holidays without a family meal and a festive meal that brings us all together but it is something that our families are dealing with day in and day out all through the year," Jones said.

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byeway - 11/8/2013 10:07 AM
0 Votes
Has anyone suggested that Food Stamps should be the entire family grocery budget? This is a supplement program, designed to add nutritional value to meals. Please look up "supplement" in your dictionary. $30.80 a week per person adds $1,600 a year to a 2-person family's food budget; that is NOT trivial! This is exactly what the program was meant to accomplish.

Jackw8187 - 11/8/2013 2:00 AM
0 Votes
Let's see Andy Berke live off what I get a month in food stamps. I get an AMAZING AWESOME $16.00 a month to live off of.

rbwusa - 11/7/2013 10:27 AM
0 Votes
It's so funny the Crash of 2007 was caused by Wall Street under the control of the Republicans. Since that time our country is doing about half what it use to do in Growth however wall street is exploding for the few very rich. I'm a Veteran and retired and the restrictions put on older people that can't get a job in the conservative states is a big embarrassment and I'm sorry to say Tennessee and Georgia are two of them. It's obvious you care more about control. Try helping humans for a change instead of following what big money wants you to do. What did Jesus tell us to Do?
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