Local Food Bank Fears Billions in Cuts to Food Stamps

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

PERMIAN BASIN - A farm bill currently in the U.S. House of Representatives would cut more than $16 billion from food stamps.

What does that mean for Texas?

"Cut about 300,000 people in Texas," Director of the Texas Hunger Initiative, Jeremy Everett, said.

More than 22,000 people in Ector County are going hungry. 20% of them use food stamps.

16% of Midland County use food stamps, having more than 18,000 hungry people.

Officials said the only way to cut food stamps is to make many of these people ineligible.

"Families that live at maybe somewhere below 165% of the poverty line are going to become ineligible," Everett said. "Unfortunately, what that typically means is those are the families that are working."

All of those cut people will have to look elsewhere to fill their bellies.

That idea scares local food banks because that means demand is going to skyrocket when their food supply is already in a bad spot.

"Terrified. I'm absolutely terrified," Libby Campbell, Deputy Director of the West Texas Food Bank, said. "We've already seen budget cuts that were effected by the USDA. We lost 17 trucks last year which is large 18-wheelers worth of trucks of food. This year alone, to make up for the difference, we're having to purchase 40% of our food." That's up from buying 25% last year.

The West Texas Food Bank serves one-sixth of the state, feeding people from Midland to Presidio.

If food stamps are cut, they said their supplies will be exhausted, especially with no food distributors nearby.

"We are in what they call a 'food desert,'" Campbell said. "We don't live in San Antonio or Dallas or Houston where we have large companies that just drop off truckloads and truckloads of donations."

For now, the West Texas Food Bank is hoping for more donations and hopes Congress will be compassionate and find some other way to bring balance to the budget.