Across the region more people are struggling to put food on the table. Second Harvest Food Bank says local food banks are seeing an increase in traffic and those numbers are expected to go up.
On November 1 food stamps were cut for more than one million Washington residents. To a family of four, that cut us about $36 a month. Because of the reduction in food stamps, Second Harvest estimates that even more people will need food assistance.
"If it wasn't for the food bank, I would have been one of those people on the side of the road begging for food," Lawrence Goodman said.
Goodman is one of those Washington residents who uses food stamps. He had surgery this year and couldn't work, so food stamps helped him put food on the table. But, at the beginning of November, those benefits were cut. Instead of receiving $200 a month he now gets $189.
"It makes the last week before your card reloads a potato and potato week. You don't really have a choice, you have to find something really cheap," he said.
Second Harvest provides food to the Salvation Army food bank and about 250 others.
Melissa Cloninger with the non-profit said there is typically a spike in need during the holidays, but she's surprised that in October, before the food stamp cuts kicked in and the holiday season started, neighborhood food banks saw a 13-percent increase in clients.
"Some of those agencies told us they are seeing a higher number of new clients than returning and that was in October which was also surprising to us," she said.
"Now especially in light of a 13-percent pre-food stamp cut increase, we anticipate we will see an increase at the end of November," Cloninger added.
Cloninger also expects an increase in December and January as new clients rely on food banks so they won't go hungry.
"Up until the last six, eight months, I donated, I never used the food bank but I was really glad it was here when it came down to it," Goodman said.
Second Harvest encourages you to give the gift of food this holiday season. The non-profit spends a bulk of its budget on transporting and distributing free food to local food banks so a cash donation is what they need most. Each dollar you donate provides enough food to a family for five meals.
For more information on donating to Second Harvest, click here.