Soup kitchen sees huge increase in need

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. -- Food stamp cuts kicked in on November 1st and families are really feeling the sting. Many are turning to food pantries and soup kitchens for meals.

The director of the soup kitchen says they always see a slight increase in need toward the end of the month as money and assistance runs out, but this month, because of the cuts in food stamps, they are feeding many more mouths.

"We've been coming here for a couple years now, we always come here when food gets low," said Shealena Simpson.

Simpson says with the cut in government assistance, she and her family end up in this line much more often.

"They think that, because you are working, that automatically, you don't need no assistance, help but that's not true," said Simpson.

Simpson is a working single-parent. She, like so many others, represents a whole new class-the working poor.

"I'm out of like $1300 a month just spending on food and rides and clothes for them," said Simpson.

While most are worried about saving room for dessert, these people are thinking about how to make ends meet and where they will get their next meal.

"What we've seen is an overall rise. Two years ago, our numbers were around 48,000 meals, and the last two years it has been darn close to 54,000 meals," said Merry Stover, Executive Director of The Soup Kitchen Inc. in Benton Harbor.

Stover says, on average, the kitchen is feeding over two hundred people a day.

What some may view as a minor cut in government assistance has made a major impact on everyday lives.

"They run out of money. If one little piece of that puzzle fall out, it doesn't work. I mean the puzzle is not going to fit together anymore," said Stover.

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