Federal Spending Cuts to Impact West Texas Food Bank

Federal Spending Cuts to Impact West Texas Food Bank

By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - It's been about three weeks since sequestration cuts were first announced. Now the West Texas Food Bank is preparing for the possibility of difficult months ahead.

Food Bank officials say the spending cuts will have a huge impact on the West Texas area.

They serve 19 counties in Texas. That's about 1/6 of the entire state.

The Food Bank runs mainly off of charitable donations so sequestration won't affect them too much financially, but their partner agencies will be greatly affected. That means the demand for food will spike yet again during a time when they're already playing catch up.

Gas in the car or money for groceries? It's a troubling situation many West Texans face.

"Every decision you make, every moment of the day is clouded with 'how am I gonna put food on the table for my family?'" West Texas Food Bank Executive Director, Libby Campbell, said.

And it's one that could happen even more often now that the effects of the sequester are trickling down to the Basin.

"We have about 66,000 West Texans who are going to be cut on the program," Campbell said.

Campbell is talking about programs like TEFAP, The Emergency Food Assistance Program.

Grant money for TEFAP helps provide food for the elderly and low-income families but Campbell says those funds will eventually be slashed.

"That grant helps pay for the transportation of food and product here to West Texas, which is really important due to the fact that we are in, what we call, a food desert," Campbell said. "We just kinda know that over the next 30-90 days that we are going to see an impact."

But the cuts wont end there.

"There's gonna be more than 600,000 low-income women who are feeding children who are gonna lose funding for the WIC program," Campbell said. "This is where a lot of people go to get nutritious food for their families."

It means more people in our area will be turning to the food bank for help.  With resources already stretched thin, it makes their mission that much harder.

"It is heartbreaking to have somebody walk in and realize that maybe if we had just a little bit more, we could've given them a little bit more to help them get on their feet," Campbell said.

So for now, the Food Bank is turning to the public to fill the gap.

"We need more donations, we need more food drives and we need more volunteers to sort," Campbell said. "If there's less funding out there that's provided, that just means that there's less help to be given to those who need it the most."

A dollar goes a long way at the Food Bank. Four meals can be provided for just one dollar.

If you'd like to help, you can contact the West Texas Food Bank at (432) 580-NEED (6333).