DENVER - The partial government shutdown may have ended, but the "hunger clock" countdown for 500,000 Coloradans still continues. More than half a million Coloradans will lose a portion of their food assistance beginning Nov. 1. That's when a temporary boost to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) expires in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
More than 47 million Americans-including 22 million children-will see reductions in monthly benefits from this boost that was designed to strengthen the economy and ease hardship. A family of four in Colorado could see a $36 reduction in their monthly benefits; funds that help purchase groceries and provide meals.
"Now is not the time to cut SNAP benefits for families, children, seniors and others struggling to make ends meet," said Kathy Underhill, executive director for Hunger Free Colorado, the state's leading anti-hunger organization. "SNAP is the first line of defense against hunger, and the reduced benefits will make it even more challenging for our neighbors to access nutritious food; another barrier to put food on the table."
The ringing phones at the statewide Hunger Free Hotline already show the impact of the upcoming SNAP benefit reduction. The toll-free, multilingual hotline, run by Hunger Free Colorado, connects families and individuals to food and nutrition resources in their community, such as local food pantries, nutrition education class and other nutrition assistance programs. The hotline expects the calls to increase, as Nov. 1 approaches.
"Those struggling to get by already have to make hard choices, and now many are wondering how they will fill the gap to get the food that they need," shared Underhill. "This should not be the case. Nutritious food should be a basic human right for all, and these cuts do the opposite of ensuring no Coloradans goes hungry."
Colorado families and individuals are not the only ones who will be impacted in two weeks.
"Hunger affects everyone, and this will be felt across the state," said Maura Barnes, director of policy and advocacy for Hunger Free Colorado. "The SNAP benefit reduction will harm our state's economy and affect hunger-relief organizations that are already stretched thin due to ongoing demand. For all these reasons, we need Congress to protect SNAP and other vital nutrition programs instead of making harmful cuts."
The confidential, multilingual Hunger Free Hotline can connect Coloradans to food and nutrition resources as well as to volunteer and donation opportunities in their area. Call toll-free at (855) 855-4626 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Visit www.HungerFreeColorado.org to learn more about the issue of hunger, sustainable solutions for Colorado and how to be a part of the solution.
Content for this article was provided by Michelle Ray of Hunger Free Colorado.
(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)