Local families feeling SNAP cuts

By Erika Mahoney

November 4, 2013 Updated Nov 4, 2013 at 8:04 PM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) Millions of families across New York have less to buy food.

On November 1, federal cuts to food stamps took effect, leaving people to find new ways to make ends meet, like Tramell McLaughlin.

McLaughlin takes care of her mom, sister, nephew, and her own children.

She lives in a small apartment in Endicott and relies on food stamps to help her family.

The recent cut to SNAP benefits has her wondering why.

"Why take it from those that are really in need of it." McLaughlin said. "It's not like we aren't working class. No matter to the circumstances, to whatever is going on in our lives, it's just a cut."

Four days after the cuts took effect, and she already felt the consequences at the grocery store.

"I was getting stuff and it was being calculated and it was over and I didn't have the money, so I had to put it back."

McLaughlin is not alone.

Outside the Broome County Department of Social Services, others shared their stories.

"I think it's just horrible, I think it's an outrage," Valeria Cimini said. "I'm grandmother, I'm raising my grandson. I find it impossible to juggle all that life has to throw at me including this small child who is now 14 and eats a lot."

According to the Food Bank of the Southern Tier, more than 30,000 people use food stamps in Broome County.

The cuts range from $36 a month for a family of four, to $11 a month for one person.

The Deputy Commissioner of Assistance Programs at the Broome County Department of Social Services said people have been upset.

"They're upset, but it's a federal level change. We've been giving them all the resources and assistance in the community that's available to them. We certainly anticipate this will impact the food pantries."

The waiting room at Broome County Catholic Charities was packed just after lunch.

The coordinator said it was busier than normal, and she expects it to be that way for some time.

"The food stamp cut is coming at a time of the year that is so crucial to so many of our families," Kathy Pfaffenbach said. "They're facing their utility bills going up. It's not the summertime, where they can grow their own vegetables. But it is the season of giving. Hopefully people will see the demand and feel very generous at this holiday season."

It's also a season of change for some.

For the first time, McLaughlin stood in line at the pantry.

The cuts are taking place because the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act ended. The legislation passed in 2009 to help families during the recession.