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Local food banks brace for cuts to food stamp funding - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Local food banks brace for cuts to food stamp funding

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President Donald Trump's first major budget proposal rolled out Tuesday, and it slashes the amount spent on welfare programs, including food stamps.

Nationally, more than 44 million people benefit from food assistance programs. Locally, about 50,000 people in San Luis Obispo County and 140,000 in Santa Barbara County rely on that assistance.  

"I feel weird asking for help," said Kaitlyn, who wished to remain anonymous. She's 20-years-old and pregnant and is applying for food stamps for the first time because doctors told her she can't work during her pregnancy.

"Because they are worried he's going to come out early, and he has some health issues, so I'm considered a high-risk pregnancy," Kaitlyn said. 

She now joins thousands of others in the area who rely on food assistance for their next meal.

"We estimate 1 in 6 families are going to experience food scarcity and we are there to fill in the need," said Kevin Drabinski, Chief Executive Director for the San Luis Obispo County Food Bank Coalition. 

The food bank is busy collecting, packing, and transporting meals to feed nearly 50,000 people through more than 200 food assistance agencies.

"Forty percent of the people are kids, 20 percent are seniors. We see a lot of veterans, a lot of homeless, so we are reaching the corners maybe people don't see," Drabinski said. 

Now, this food bank may have to brace for impact as President Trump is proposing to slash $190 billion from the food stamp program over 10 years.

"Certainly we are concerned. It kind of has a ripple effect of what we are able to access of food in terms of what the other agencies are able to receive from us," Drabinksi said. 

President Trump's budget director, Mick Mulvaney, spoke to reporters saying the cuts wouldn't affect people who need the assistance.

"We have plenty of money in this country to take care of the people who need help, and we will do that. We don't have enough money to take care of people, everybody who doesn't need help," Mulvaney said. 

The White House says there are just too many people taking advantage of government assistance programs like food stamps, and the budget proposal is a way to weed those people out.

The budget now heads to Congress to be adopted or rejected.

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