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Food banks see more seniors as SNAP cuts kick in
By Crystal Price
EL PASO, Texas - Food banks in the Borderland are being hit with more and more El Pasoans who are turning to them for help.
At Sacred Heart food pantry and kitchen, this is often their busiest time of year.
However, this year at Thanksgiving they helped a lot more people than they expected.
"Last year we fed 2,500, this year we fed 3000 people," said James Martinez, a coordinator at Sacred Heart. "So there's more people coming in."
Martinez said cuts in SNAP benefits are part of the problem.
Right now, a typical family of four in El Paso on food stamps is receiving as much as $44 less per month in SNAP benefits.
Now as more people turn to food banks for help, this creates a larger gap they have to fill to keep El Pasoans fed.
The Salvation Army is handing out at least 30 percent more food boxes a week.
But instead of young families, the food bank is noticing more seniors come through their door.
"They don't have a way of making that up, so they're coming to us because they're having to make the decision, do I buy the meds or do I buy food for my table," said Major Mike Morton, the El Paso area comander for the Salvation Army.
Morton said within the last year they've helped 19,358 people in El paso with food, clothing, and other services.
Morton added that is almost double the amount of people they helped in 2012.
The Salvation Army's food bank is almost full, but Morton said with the holidays around the corner the shelves will not be full for long.
"I'm giving 40 food boxes a month," Morton said. "You're talking about 533 boxes a year. I'm going through a lot of food. In April or May, this food stock will all be gone."
For information on how donations can be made to Sacred Heart, you can call their office at 915-532-5447.
Donations can also be dropped off at 231 Father Rahm Street.
Donations to the Salvation Army can be made in person at 4300 East Paisano Drive or online at www.salvationarmyelpasotexas.org.