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Families scrambling to feed themselves face cuts to food stamps

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The new farm bill President Obama signed into law yesterday cuts $8.6 billion from food stamps during the next decade.  This comes on top of $5 billion in cuts during the last year.

Jeff Bredt was earning six figures a year as a wine expert in restaurants. But now he's out of work and counts on federal food aid -- and food banks -- to fill the cupboard at home.

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Jeff Bredt's family often goes without basics such as lunch meat, fresh fruit, frozen vegetables
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"You want to have fresh fruit, fresh vegetables," he said. "You want the healthy kids.  That's not cheap." 

Added his daughter, Beatrix,: "If you want children to eat, it has to be good."

He, his wife, who is disabled and unable to work, and his daughter can only afford to eat on a budget that amounts to a little over $5, each, a day -- for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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A former restaurant wine expert, Jeff Bredt now relies on food stamps to feed his family
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"My daughter needs to see us -- even though we're in tough straits and she knows we are in tough straits, she's no fool, my daughter -- but she doesn't see us collapse," he said.

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Beatrix Bredt
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 They rely on nearly $497 a month in benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP.  In three weeks the money is gone, and they go without basics such as lunch meat, fresh fruit, frozen vegetables.  Bredt says food options become tiresome.

"For a few days, it's pasta with onions and butter," he said. "That's what you're going to eat for a couple of days.  It's just the way it is." 

With his SNAP card depleted, the grocery store is no longer an option.  He turns to food banks, and by then his anxiety level is up.

"Oh it's depressing," he said. "I'll be frank.  We ask from help from our family, like, 'We're not going to make it. Could you spot us a couple of hundred bucks?'"

 

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The family relies on food banks
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 Bredt, a recovering alcoholic, can never return to the food and wine business, so he is studying to be a paralegal. And he volunteers because he considers himself lucky.

"As bad as I think I have it there are people who have it worse than I do," he said.

What does he care about?

"I care about keeping us alive, keeping us going," he said. "I care about the future."

The future for him begins on the first of every month with the hope his family's struggle to survive will get easier.