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A month after cuts to SNAP benefits, food pantries are feeling the pinch

A month after cuts to SNAP benefits, food pantries are feeling the pinch
A month after cuts to SNAP benefits, food pantries are feeling the pinch 02:17

CHICAGO (CBS) -- It's been nearly a month since Illinois families saw SNAP benefits cut back, and food pantry leaders say they're feeling the pinch.

The food stamp program ended pandemic-era "emergency allotments" on March 1.

In DuPage County, leaders at the West Suburban Community Pantry said that led to a wave of new clients, and they're bracing for more.

If the way to someone's heart is through their stomach, then Art Sheridan might be speaking a universal love language.

A long-time off-and-on fixture at West Suburban Community Pantry in Woodridge, he's seeing more new customers like Deb Lyduch – a fresh face after relocating from Des Moines.

"Everybody's really sweet here, and I like the fact that you can kind of go around and pick up some stuff that you like," Lyduch said.

But she's not the only new shopper filling the aisles at the West Suburban Community Pantry.

"What we're seeing now is a lot of people coming here for the first time, because they cannot find enough money to pay for their groceries," said West Suburban Community Pantry CEO Sue Armato.

Pantry leaders said they're already seeing four times more DuPage households than they did in 2021, and their food costs have risen 25% in the same time period.

Staff said SNAP cuts affected 75,000 people in DuPage County, and now there is another cut coming.

Certain pandemic Medicaid protections roll back on March 31, meaning some of the same families that shop at West Suburban Community Pantry could be paying out more for healthcare too.

"It almost feels like we've forgotten about them, because we do feel like the pandemic is over, but with all of these policy changes we continue to see people in need," Armato said.

Lyduch said she's not holding out hope for more government relief.

"You can hold your breath for that," she said.

But staff said they're looking anywhere they can to produce more produce, because their hearts are in feeding DuPage families.

"We're really struggling to get enough food from our normal places so we have got to reach out to new ones," Armato said.

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