Oct 15, 2013 8:17 PM by Cameron Polom, KSBY News

25,000 people on food assistance in county could be cut off

Nearly 25 thousand people getting food assistance in San Luis Obispo County could be cut off as soon as November 1st. That's according to the San Luis Obispo food bank who says the government shutdown is playing Russian roulette with its customers lives. The average monthly amount is about 288 bucks per household. Now that doesn't sound like much but as one person who KSBY spoke with Tuesday put it, it helped his family survive during hard times. For those receiving food assistance from the state and SLO county food bank, the shutdown means one thing. "It's about rice and beans and tuna fish," said Fredrick Potruch. Potruch is a volunteer at the food bank. "Like I said it's feel good work, what goes around comes around," said Potruch. It's a saying that holds true for Potruch, just six months ago he and his family were on the other side of the table receiving help from the food bank. "Where do you get food when you have no money," said Potruch. He and his wife were out of work, low on cash and left with only one place to turn. For Potruch, going hungry became a sobering reality. Just like it could soon be for more than 9000 families in the county. According to food bank officials, food stamps and all other nutrition assistance programs will halt on November 1st unless congress agrees to raise the debt ceiling. "Twenty-five thousand people are going to be affected and not be able to go to the grocery store and get food they normally would be getting," said food bank official Wendy Lewis. Organizations like the Griffin Society, a residential sober living home, won't get the shipments they need, 90 percent of which comes from the food bank. "We just can't afford to go to the market to buy it at full price," said Bull Chaney. Which could leave thousands of families with nowhere to turn. "If there isn't food for us to give out then who knows what's going to happen to some of these people, food is a necessity of life," said Potruch. A program assisting seniors with lunches has already fallen victim to the shut down as of October 1st. Food bank officials also say the WIC program, a program offering nutrition assistance to single mothers and their children will no longer have funding either as November 1st. According to food bank officials, nutrition assistance programs provide more than 7 million dollars in revenue to San Luis Obispo County every year. That money goes back into the economy when families purchase food at markets.



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