Food pantry anticipates higher need after decrease in food stamp payments

CHARLOTTE — Record inflation has left families all around our area struggling to put food on the table.

For many people, federal assistance programs have been helping them make ends meet. But some of those benefits will soon come to an end.

Tina Postel, the CEO of Loaves and Fishes, said she and her team have been working since the start of the pandemic to keep the shelves stocked with food. The emergency food pantry offers a week’s worth of healthy groceries to families in crisis -- all for free.

On Wednesday, volunteer Dan Sullivan was dropping them off.

“There are so many people in Charlotte that are in need,” he said.

The nonprofit served more than 9,000 people in December alone. And now, Postel is expecting the need to climb once again.

“We are definitely trying to stockpile as much food as we can,” Postel said.

Starting next month, North Carolina families who rely on SNAP benefits will see a cut in their monthly payments. The extra money added during the pandemic has already expired in South Carolina.

It comes as many families grapple with the increased cost of living and higher food prices. It’s also impacting Loaves and Fishes -- they spent half a million dollars in items over just the last four months.

“We’ve had to purchase more food this year than we ever have,” Postel said.

Despite the challenges and the cost, Postel said Loaves and Fishes is prepared to help.

“We’ve never had to turn anybody away in our 47-year history because we’ve run out of food, and I don’t want that to happen on my watch,” she said.

Right now, the organization desperately needs canned meats, pastas and vegetables in its annual Scouting for Food drive. This weekend, Loaves and Fishes will have 11 big trucks placed all over Mecklenburg County in hopes of collecting enough donations to meet the increased need.

The eliminated SNAP funding is just another setback to providing families food security, but Postel said she and her team will continue to do the work.

“Every day that we show up, that our volunteers show up, we know that there will be hundreds of families, seniors, and individuals that have a healthy meal to eat, this very day,” she said.

>> To learn more about the Scouting for Food drive, click here.

(WATCH BELOW: SNAP Program: What you need to know)

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