Texoma food banks struggling amid SNAP cuts
Local food banks are feeling the impact of the SNAP cuts.
SNAP benefits were cut back in February.
Executive Director of Lawton Food Bank, Mac Lechel says those cuts caused a huge impact.
“They were drastic cuts to families SNAP benefits and people who did not need to come here, they were making it with that safety net. I mean, our numbers they nearly doubled just from that one month difference from having SNAP to not having SNAP.”
Lechel says March was the first month without those SNAP benefits and that’s where you see the increase.
“But we’ve served so far this year over 4,000 clients. So, from January and February we were around 900 clients tops and then March you saw that increase to 1280.”
Lechel says the SNAP cuts have kept Lawton Food Bank busier than usual.
“So normally, you get your SNAP benefits on the first half of the month. Like, the first, the fifth, and the tenth. So, normally those days for us the first, I would say up until the 20th, the first half or so of the month, we get you know maybe like 30 to 40 people a day and then all of a sudden we’re seeing 80 to 100 people a day in the first half of the month.”
Lechel says there’s ways that the community can help.
“Monetary donations are fantastic, but we can also, you know if you would like to do a food drive, or a fundraiser, those are things that we can absolutely help you with, we can also use volunteers as well.”
And Lawton’s not the only area feeling the impact… Wichita Falls Area Food Bank CEO David O’Neil said they’ve also seen their clients double and many have lost SNAP benefits due to the vehicle asset test which hasn’t been updated in 50 years.
“So, what happened was over the last couple of years 55,000 Texans were kicked off of receiving any type of food stamps or SNAP benefits solely because of inflation and just in our neck of the woods its over 400 families.”
O’Neil said that there’s also been an increase because more people are moving to an area with a lower cost of living.
“Some are moving because they have family members here, but some quite frankly are moving because the rent is cheaper than it would be living somewhere else and they’re going to places which puts an extra strain on rural food banks like Lawton, Wichita Falls, some of the smaller ones.”
Southwest Community Action Group in Altus says they’ve actually seen their clients triple…
“I want to say it’s tripled because we are seeing new clients that have not utilized us before.
Food and resource center of South Central Oklahoma in Ardmore says they’re seeing 10 new clients a day and having former clients come back.
Lawton Food Bank and Wichita Falls Area Food Bank will both be participating in the national event Stamp Out Hunger this Saturday May 13th.
For more information visit Lawton Food Bank - Home and Wichita Falls Area Food Bank - About Us (wfafb.org).