LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) — Local food pantries in Arkansas are expressing concern for where they’ll get money to feed Arkansans who are in need.
President Trump’s budget proposal for 2019 includes cuts that would affect thousands of families if passed. The budget cuts some funding the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) and drastically alter Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP).
"Cuts of this nature we feel like will just escalate the situation that so many of our senior citizens are dealing with. So, we're very concerned about it,” Arkansas Foodbank CEO Rhonda Sanders said.
One in 5 seniors in Arkansas relies on a box of food delivered to their door every month. The Arkansas Food Bank helps distribute these boxes across the southern part of the state.
"We're serving 960 seniors,” Sanders said. "When you add it up, those food boxes equate to about 288,000 meals a year."
Sanders said CSFP come to an end if President Trump's 2019 budget proposal passes.
"You would immediately have 960 citizens that would do without a box of food each month,” Sanders said.
Sanders said the Foodbank gained the program last year.
“We’ve been so excited about it because we have been one of the worst in the nation for senior hunger and this was one of the things we had hoped for, for a long time to feed our senior citizens. We finally got it and are able to work on that and now I feel like we will be going backwards,” she said.
Nancy Conley with Arkansas Hunger Relief said the budget cuts would also affect thousands of families who rely on SNAP.
"When they're talking about making cuts to SNAP, that's over 400,000 people in Arkansas. 200,000 kids would be impacted by that,” Conley said.
Conley said cutting this out would leave too many families in the dark.
“About 41 percent in Arkansas that are on SNAP, are employed. So that tells you that they’re not making a high enough wage to buy the food they need,” she said.
Sanders said the Foodbank would have to find a way to make ends meet and to feed seniors in need.
"Basically, We would have to find a way to provide food for 288,000 meals a year,” she said.
The budget plan still has to pass, and it's unclear if it will make it through the House and Senate.
The Trump administration says these cuts are about saving money, and not taking away food from those in need.