Rescue Mission: Children Are Victims of Food Stamp Cuts


Starting midnight on Friday, $5 billion from the economic stimulus runs out for SNAP. That means money on EBT cards will drop back to 2009 levels.

Nationwide, 47 million Americans will feel the impact. Virginia stands to lose about $99 million, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. That breaks down to $11 per month for individuals and $36 for a family of four.

We spoke with the Roanoke Rescue Mission about the heartbreaking changes it's already seeing because of the tough economy.

Volunteers at the mission prepare meals for more than 600 people every day, and with food stamp benefits being cut, volunteers are expecting many more families looking for a hot meal.

"Basically, the losers here are the children," said Joy Sylvester-Johnson, the CEO of the Rescue Mission whose family founded the mission 62 years ago.

She says lately their most frequent visitors, looking for both food and shelter, are children.

"And what that tells me is that the community children who are coming in to eat dinner with us - or any time there is a school break, or holiday, the children are coming here for lunch - it says to me that they are not eating at home, that there's not food at home, and they are coming here because they are hungry."

Sylvester-Johnson says with this alarming trend of hungry children, cutting benefits that directly affect them is overall a bad investment.

"It will play out over the next generation. Children will not be as smart, they will not live as long, they will have more health concerns, they will be emotionally challenged by it because they will feel insecure because they don't have food."

She says the cuts are taking food straight from pantries that already are bare, meaning non-profits like the Rescue Mission will have to work even harder to keep theirs stocked.

"Rescue Mission has nothing to do with food stamps," she says. "We don't take them, we don't give them.  But we do see the end result. And what we are seeing is more hungry children."

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