Proposed budget cuts leave uncertainty for local food service providers

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COLUMBIA – President Donald Trump's proposed budget cuts on Tuesday could decrease funding for food stamps by nearly $200 billion over 10 years nationwide.

SNAP, a food stamp program that serves more than 800,000 Missouri residents, may lose more than one-quarter of its national funding, according to a recent report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

“The real issue here is that at current funding levels we are not reaching all of the people who presently are in need,” Lindsay Young Lopez, executive director for The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri, said. “If we see an increase in the demand of those people who are seeking food though our partner agencies, we would predict that there would be even more of a shortfall than what we are able to acquire and distribute.”

The report also said nearly one-quarter of SNAP costs would transfer to the states as a result of the budget cuts, which could cost Missouri more than $2 billion over the next decade.

The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri serves more than 135 partnered agencies across 32 counties through SNAP benefits.

Young Lopez said she is concerned with food insecurity increasing and feeding employed people who already use food stamps.

“Every one of us has interaction with someone on an ongoing basis, probably a daily basis, who does not have enough access to food, you just may not know what that face of hunger looks like,” Young Lopez said.

Another local provider, Central Pantry in Columbia, may face similar challenges moving forward.

Sean Ross, Central Pantry supervisor, said the pantry serves about 5,000 families per month and would expect demand to increase under proposed changes.

“If their SNAP benefits were cut, then they would probably start looking to the pantry more,” Ross said. “Their money is not going as far as it used to, and so they’re looking to the pantry to help fill that gap.”

Ross said more than half of his clients do not use food stamps, and he would expect that amount to increase if the proposed budget cuts take effect.

“There’s a lot of people out there who get SNAP benefits already who don’t come here,” Ross said. “If the budget were to be cut back, we would probably see a pretty dramatic increase in our numbers of people being served.”