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Unemployment cuts to impact food bank

By Shannon Ballard 9:14 PM December 28, 2013

Benefit cuts not only to affect individuals, but local food pantries as well

ANCHORAGE- Employees with the Food Bank of Alaska are preparing for more people looking for food now that federal unemployment benefits have expired.

“The new cut that’s coming with unemployment, I think it’s going to be significant,” said Michael Miller with the Food Bank of Alaska.

Miller thinks it will be significant all over Alaska.

“In the Anchorage and Mat-Su area I’m going to anticipate a 10 to 12 percent increase in our pantry needs and our soup kitchen needs,” Miller said. “I’m absolutely certain in Fairbanks, in Juneau, in Kenai, Kodiak, I’m absolutely certain that they’re going to feel that same pressure.”

Miller said he sees the struggle others face to put food on their table.

More than 6,000 Alaskans will have less money for groceries, he said.

“I think we’re going to be looking at people who could make it two weeks, maybe three weeks before having to utilize the pantry, “ Miller said. “Now coming to the pantry or soup kitchen as a primary place to find their food.”

Food banks across the country reported large increases when Congress made cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Program, or food stamps, this fall.

Saturday’s cuts will have a definite impact on families and the nonprofit’s ability to meet the demand, Miller said.

Alaska’s unemployment rate was 6.5 percent in November, marking the 61st straight month below the national average according to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

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