Letter to the Editor: Food stamp cuts hurt Alamedans

Letter to the Editor: Food stamp cuts hurt Alamedans

Letters to the Editor

Saturday, November 2 was a big day for the Alameda Food Bank. As usual, we did our monthly Client Food Selection (CFS) program at our warehouse at Alameda Point. “Client Food Selection” is an important program for us: Alamedans get to utilize the food bank get to pick the foods they want. This is a national “best practice” for food pantries; it eliminates waste when clients have more control over what they can take home. Instead of pre-packaged boxes, clients get a choice of canned goods, produce, and breads. The program is needed. On a given day at our distribution center on Thau Way, we will serve 30 to 50 people; typically at our monthly CFS program we serve 200 to 250 people.

November 2 was also a big day because it was the first day of extensive cutbacks to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), popularly known as “food stamps.” As you may know, November 1 marked the expiration of additional SNAP allocations under President Obama’s 2008 stimulus efforts. More than 4 million Californians will be affected, each losing the equivalent of approximately 26 individual meals per month. As anticipated, our numbers were up. We served nearly 280 folks when our average for a CFS program this time of year is more like 250. The Alameda Food Bank, like many banks and pantries across the country, has been discussing the many ramifications of the cutbacks in SNAP. We are trying our best to prepare, although it is difficult. We serve nearly to capacity now.

What I love most about the Alameda Food Bank is that it is so wonderfully local. Clients need to show us an Alameda address to receive food. Many of our volunteers and donations come from right here on Alameda and Bay Farm islands. We are truly neighbors helping neighbors … but our care for each other here in the Island City will no doubt be affected by the incessant budget slashing and gridlock in Washington. It is a time of year when we at the Alameda Food Bank need all the help we can get. We can use your donations of money or time (please go to our website, http://www.alamedafoodbank.org, to see how you can donate or volunteer). But the hungry in the Island City can also be helped by their neighbors' strong advocacy. Please contact our congressional representatives and let them know that further cuts in the SNAP program hurt us here. We can help our neighbors through many venues. If we can stop further cuts in assistance programs in Washington we can be much more effective helping smaller numbers of needy in Alameda.

Troy Gilbert
Executive Director
Alameda Food Bank