Thomas Roberts   |  November 06, 2013

Somewhere over the hunger cliff

Automatic budget cuts that went into effect last week have forced approximately 47 million Americans reliant on food stamps to make ends meet with fewer dollars. Rebecca Brislain discusses.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> republican lawmakers continue their angst over obama care, there's a new talking point. politico is reporting that the obama administration has ordered a study to determine whether the affordable care act will increase the number of people enrolled in the food stamps program since it increases the number of people eligible for medicaid. it's too soon to tell, but this much we do know to be true. right now 47 million americans are making ends meet with fewer food stamp dollars. the automatic cuts that kicked in nearly a week ago are forcing more recipients to turn to re resources like food pan trees. rebecca is the executive director of florida association of food banks . florida is among two dozen states where at least 15% of the population relies on food stamps . how much of an uptick has there been at food pantries that you work with over the past week since those automatic cuts went into effect?

>> well, i don't know that we've seen the impact of that at our food pan industries just yet because it's just beginning to roll out. people haven't necessarily seen the drop -- well, they have seen the decline in their program, but they haven't necessarily seen the impact immediately. but our food pantries over the past four years have seen an increase from 72 million pounds of food distribution to 173 million pounds. so we've seen over four years during the economic decline here in the state of florida a dramatic increase in food distribution and we anticipate that this will simply add to that burden.

>> the cuts here that we're talking about, those who rely on food stamps , will now see an average cut of roughly 36 food stamp dollars per month. to a lot of folks out there, that's not a lot of money. but when you start talking about what $36 fewer in food stamps means for food-insecure families, what are we talking about then?

>> we're talking about a pretty significant amount of food. if you look at food stamp dollars, that can buy a package of ham pittsburgher, two packages of spaghetti, chicken, bread, lunch meat, a gallon of milk, a box of cereal, i mean it's essentially a good week's worth of food for families who are struggling.

>> lawmakers right now trying to negotiate just how much is going to be cut from the food stamps program in the farm bill . the house bill calls for a $39 billion cut to the program. the senate is calling for $4.5 billion cut so either way there's going to be cuts to this particular entitlement program . how are food banks like yours, how are you trying to brace for even more people who could end up needing your resources?

>> we've been working over the past several years to increase the amount of food that's available to us from two major feed streams. the retail industry works very closely with us to donate surplus food through their market and we're also working through the fresh produce industry. florida has been a real boone to us with our agricultural community donating a lot of fresh produce to us, so we've seen significant increases in the amount of fresh produce and food coming through the retail market .

>> rebecca of the florida association of food banks , thank you.

>>> up next, senator rand paul with a few choice words for his critics, even as he continues to be plagued by that plagiarism scandal. our agenda panel is standing by