Long lines for meals after food stamp cuts
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Hungry families have been waiting an hour or more in line each day at St. Vincent's Food Pantry in Reno as federal cuts to the food stamp program have caused a surge in new families seeking help.
The cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program took effect Friday, affecting 48 million people across the country, including hundreds of thousands of Nevadans.
Food Pantry Manager Scott Cooksley says his organization is bracing for an influx of new people.
"Last year in November, we did about 440 brand new families. This year for November, I'm projecting us to do between 1,100 and 1,150 new families. And I see that kind of a trend going into December and also into January."
That means St. Vincent's will be serving an estimated 270,000 meals to clients this month, up from about 180,000 meals last month.
Cooksley says the pantry does serve homeless people, but there's a misconception that most of his clients are destitute.
"97% of our families that come in here are working poor: they work part time or they have some type of income coming in; they're trying to make ends meet; they have children. So, it's not just the homeless; it's everybody. It could be that professor from six months ago who got laid off to a firefighter to a construction worker to anybody."
With the cuts, the average family will lose $36 monthly, bringing their food allowance to $632 a month.