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  • Writer's pictureHunger-Free Pennsylvania

My Story: Feeling the Cuts in Northwestern PA

As the debate around funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, commonly called “food stamps,” continues at the federal level, real people continue to get caught in the crossfire. As many as 1.8 million Pennsylvanians, including 740,000 children, already lost some of their food-aid benefits when parts of SNAP expired last month. In Congress, elected leaders remain at loggerheads over a path forward in 2014. Maybe stories like this will help to guide them, sent in from Shelia G., in Northwestern Pennsylvania: "I have had the opportunity, now that I'm on lay off to contact many of the neighbors that I had not had a chance to talk to in a long time. I've found that many of them are in the same position I am - on unemployment. My husband is a 100% disabled veteran and on unemployment, I found that I am eligible to receive help through our food bank. Thankfully, we have a farm and raise much of our food (black angus and vegetables) so I have not had the need to partake in the food program. I have, however, spent the last 6 weeks taking people who need help to the food banks to pick up their food. Many of them don't even have transportation to get to the pick up points. One young lady is working a minimum wage job which almost covers her rent of $475 plus her utilities. This doesn't leave much for food. She got her mail when I took her home Saturday from the food bank.......and what to her wondering eyes may appear but a letter from DPW ....... telling her they were cutting her food stamps from $87 to $15 per month. She is expecting a baby in March and is trying to figure out how she is going to make it with $15 in food stamps and WIC and the food bank bag she gets every other weekend. She understands the food banks are stretched to the limit and makes every effort to get by on the $87 food stamps and WIC, but now that the $87 is cut to $15, she is frantic. ​She is determined to keep her minimum wage job as long as she can, but, being considered a "high risk" pregnancy and her baby's father having left town, she finally said she may have to go to a shelter and give up the rented trailer she is living in. She doesn't know who her father is and her mother is her only other living relative (and she is a waitress and can't afford to help her daughter). She is not the only person left in this position......I feel so bad for these people. What on earth are our government officials thinking when they start cutting the only help some of these people have! It breaks my heart..... I'm going to sit down today and write to every Senator and Representative in Congress. They can't all have so little heart that they would continue to be blind to what they are doing by cutting the deficit on the backs of these unfortunate people. Hopefully, a lot of people will take a few minutes to compose a letter and send it out to all of them. Want to tell your story? Email it to Sheila Chistopher at

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