Jane Simons, member of Cathedral of Christ the King, stocks shelves in Buckhead Christian Ministry’s food pantry.
Jane Simons, member of Cathedral of Christ the King, stocks shelves in Buckhead Christian Ministry’s food pantry.

Local food banks said that the loss of food stamp benefits provided by government stimulus money will make it harder to keep their pantries full.

On Nov. 1, a temporary increase in spending on the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – more commonly known as food stamps – expired, according to the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The federal government had increased spending in 2009 as part of a stimulus program intended to improve the economy.

CBPP estimates the end of the increase will mean the state of Georgia will receive $210 million less from the SNAP program, affecting about 2 million Georgia residents. That means more families will be turning to food banks for help, food bank operators say.

Buckhead Christian Ministry volunteer Caroline Haynes distributes bags of food to a BCM client.

In fact, demand for services from food banks in Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, Buckhead and Brookhaven started rising in anticipation of the cuts taking effect.

Tamara Carrera, executive director of the Community Assistance Center that serves Sandy Springs and Dunwoody, said some of the center’s clients will lose funding for a week’s worth of food.

“When just the threats of the cuts were happening in August, we went from 550 families per month to 830 families per month,” Carrera said. “It jumped almost 300 families.”

Carrera said she expects November’s numbers will be higher than 830 families.

Helen Cunningham, executive director of the Buckhead Christian Ministry, said the group has seen a 10 percent jump in demand. Cunningham said since 2009 the ministry’s food bank has distributed 1,500 to 1,700 bags of food each month.

“We’re doing 1,800 to 2,000 bags a month, and I anticipate that to grow further as the food stamps expire,” she said.

Stanley Rose with the Suthers Center for Christian Outreach in Chamblee said the center is seeing a 50 percent increase in clients each week.

“We’re giving out 50 to 55 pounds of food,” Rose said. “We’re going through a hell of a lot of food.”

Food banks said they are asking the public to help them keep up with the increase in demand for their services.

“People are not back where they need to be, so it’s causing problems,” Rose said.

Here’s how you can help:

– The Suthers Center accepts donations Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The center is located at 3550 Broad Street, Suite F, Chamblee, 30341. For more information, visit www.sutherscenter.com.

– Buckhead Christian Ministry accepts donations from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 2847 Piedmont Road, Atlanta, 30305.

You can also make a financial donation through the website. A $25 donation feeds a family of four for one week, Cunningham said. To learn more, visit http://buckheadchristianministry.org.

– The Community Assistance Center accepts food pantry donations at the following times:

Monday – Thursday, 9 a.m. – 11 a.m., and 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Fridays, 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.

First and second Saturdays of the month, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

CAC is located at 1130 Hightower Trail, Sandy Springs, 30350. For more information, visit www.ourcac.org.

Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt wrote for Reporter Newspapers from 2011 - 2014. He is the founder and editor of Decaturish.com