COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The shelves of the Broad Street Food Pantry are stocked with cans of spaghetti rings and bags of powdered mashed potatoes. Shuffling through the isles pushing carts and selecting non-perishables are people who need a little bit of help putting food on their tables.
Some of them get food stamps through the SNAP program; others are volunteers like Alexander Nichols.
“I’m scheduled to volunteer twice a week here, but I’m volunteering pretty much every day,” said Nichols.
Nichols has his share of struggles. He is 32 years old, currently homeless, and practically penniless. He receives $197 a month in food stamps that he says is used almost immediately, leaving him in need of food by the middle of the month.
Kathy Kelly-Long, director of the Broad Street Food Pantry, says she expects more people like Nichols to seek out the pantry’s services if President Trump’s budget passes as proposed with $194 billion in cuts to the SNAP program over 10 years.
Her pantry has been in operation for more than 40 years, and she says need has risen and fallen over the years.
The same can be said in Gahanna where Brenda Johnston runs the assistance organization Gahanna Residents In Need (GRIN).
Like the Broad Street pantry, GRIN has been in operation for more than 40 years.
Johnston says over the past two years, they have seen incredible growth in the number of people they are serving. It has reached a point that the organization is once again preparing to move their operation to a larger facility closer to the majority of the people that use their services in Gahanna.
With the prospect of seeing SNAP funding slashed, she also fears an influx of people seeking to supplement their food.
“We may have to change our services, to offer them more frequently than we do or to increase boxes,” said Johnston.
It isn’t the challenge of having to help more that concerns Johnston and Kelly-Long. What is worrisome is how it will be paid for and where the resources will come from.
Johnston hopes that if the federal government does pass the budget as proposed, state agencies will be willing and able to step in and fill the gap.
Meanwhile, some SNAP users have already given up hope that the cuts can be avoided. One gentleman explained how he will simply have to find a way to make ends meet with less.
He has lost faith and believes no one in Washington D.C. cares enough about the poor to stop these cuts. And, he says, those same people will just keep getting elected time and time again, and people in need will continue to suffer.
However James Calvin Carey IV, a man of faith with three college degrees who just recently started using the Broad Street Food Pantry and claims it has been a humbling experience, says prayer is needed to change the hearts of leaders in Washington.
“We all need a reality check,” said Carey. “I believe that if [Trump] could just experience some of the things that people go through at a little more grounded level, that he would understand that these resources are needed.”