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Cuts To Food Assistance Puts Strain On Maryland Families And Institutions

In Maryland the recent cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP, are impacting more than 787,000 people. The cuts are also putting a strain on many local food banks, pantries and homeless shelters.

Claudia Nagle is the executive director of Diakonia, a homeless shelter located just outside Ocean City. She says that since the SNAP cuts took effect on November 1, there's been a growing number of knocks on the door.

"In the first few days of the month, we have served 28 families, 75 people, and we've distributed over a 120 bags of food, and that's a lot in those few days," she says.

The cuts trim the monthly allocation of SNAP benefits by $16 for individuals and up to $65 for families, which Nagle says may not seem like much until you realize the national average for monthly benefits is around $278.

Yvonne Terry works at the Maryland Food Bank in Salisbury and says the phone has been ringing non-stop since November 1.

"They've been calling because they've been concerned, they've been calling because they are angry, they've been calling because they don't know what to do and what will happen next and that means they are scared," she says.

But more cuts to the program could be on the way as House Republicans have proposed more than $40 billion in additional cuts over the next decade — cuts they say will rightsize a program that's almost tripled in cost since the year 2000.

But as that debate continues, food banks and shelters across the shore and the country are now left with an even trickier hunger game of supply and demand.

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