Local charities feel the sting of SNAP cuts

Posted at 8:10 PM, Apr 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-01 20:10:59-04

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP benefits are changing for many low-income individuals and families in  Florida.

Friday marked the beginning of cuts that could affect up to 300,000 Floridians.

The changes are not only affecting those who rely on food stamps, but the community agencies that help them.

Patrick Livingston, who founded Above the Sea Restaurant, a soup kitchen and food pantry in Lake Worth, says he used to serve mostly homeless people, but he's seeing a lot of growth and a new crowd coming in.

"These are working families now, they see something going on," Livingston said.

Torrie Stinson, a mother of four, says she will rely on help from food banks more than ever with the cuts. She says her husband works full time, but she is out of a job while undergoing multiple surgeries, so they rely on about $300 worth of food stamps every month to feed their family of 6.

"At least two weeks of groceries guaranteed in the household," she says the benefits have provided her family, "And without that, we have to cut back and try to figure out...take from bills, take from here, to try and get more food in the house."

Livingston says he's already meeting with the local grocery stores that donate food to his non-profit about increasing his supply. He says he already feeds more than a hundred people a day, and with the SNAP cuts, that number will grow.

"Once we open our doors, in about an hour and a half, two hours, the majority of what we have here will be gone," Livingston said.

Uwe Naujak, resources coordinator at the Homeless Coalition of Palm Beach County, says he's also feeling the strain.

Naujak says a letter addressing the cuts was sent out to everyone who receives SNAP benefits, but because most homeless people don't have a permanent address for mail, many found out through the grapevine, began to worry and tried to stock up.

"All the sudden the surprise is big, they can't get any food," Naujak said. "So that's when they come storming in here and run my inventory down.

Both the Homeless Coalition of Palm Beach County and Above the Sea Restaurant are asking for non-perishable food donations to help get through the initial changes that will bring more people in.

Donations for Above the Sea can be dropped off at 1512 Wingfield Street in Lake Worth.

Donations for the Homeless Coalition can be dropped off at 1000 45th Street in West Palm Beach, and donors can call (561) 904-7937 ahead of time to set up a drop-off time.