Food stamp benefit reductions hit Friday - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Food stamp benefit reductions hit Friday

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TYLER (KYTX) - Millions of Americans who rely on food stamps will soon see a change in benefits. The $5 billion cut to the program kicks in this Friday.

"Every month, every single month."

Elisa Pitts makes up part of the 15% of our population currently on food stamps.

The average benefit per person now stands at a little more than $133 per month.

"I'll do this because I'm wanting to make a chicken pot pie, so that'll work." says Pitts. 

That amount is expected to be reduced by Friday, meaning less money for groceries just a few weeks before the start of the holiday season.

"We've got three adults and a child living in the house, so we have to have the food."

Pitts says the benefits are already not enough to feed her family. That's why she fills up a box of food at St. Paul children's Foundation's food pantry every month.

"I honestly don't know what we would do without them." she say. "We'd go hungry. That's exactly what we would do. We'd go hungry like a lot of other people out there, so it's been a real blessing."

"A lot of people are really just scraping by." says Jackie Erlandson, skills instruction coordinator at St. Paul.

She says these cuts will affect some families harder than others, and they'll be depending on St. Paul's food pantry more than ever.

"There are some people who really do exist on food stamps and assistance. And, it really makes a big difference."

Even in the face of these benefit reductions, Pitts is counting her blessings.

"I know that as low of an income as I live on, there are other people out there who have even less. And, I can only imagine how hard it is for those people."

She says she's staying positive to keep her family strong.

"I try not to look at what I don't have and I try to look at what is available for us out there."

Congress has the power to halt the cutback. But, experts say it's highly unlikely at a time when Republicans are calling for even more drastic cuts to food stamps.

According to September federal data, the amount of people receiving food stamps has gone up over the last few years. In 2007, almost 9% of Americans relied on food stamps. Today, it's 15% of the population.

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