TRI-CITIES, Wash. - The cuts to food stamps are trickling down to Tri-Cities food banks. Places like 2nd Harvest are dealing with a major gap in just a matter of weeks.
Tens of thousands of people need help and there's less help to go around.
It was supposed to be just a few dollars less a month, but Petra Valdez lost more than that. More than half of her monthly food stamp benefits are gone.
She's down to about a hundred bucks a month.
She said, "Barely enough for my children and I would go without so they could have their food."
Petra relied on St. Vincent De Paul to make ends meet before her benefits were cut. Now, she says coming here once a week is a matter of survival.
In exchange for registration ticket, Petra gets two boxes of food. They're stocked with goods like bread, dairy and grains. Fish, eggs and meats are also given to families, along with fresh fruit and vegetables. It's enough food to last at least a week.
People wait for hours in the cold just to get the food. Following the food stamps cuts the lines are longer. It puts pressure on 2nd Harvest, which distributes food to 25 locations in the Tri-Cities.
Ted Scott manages St. Vincent De Paul's food bank. He said, "Without them we wouldn't be able to do half of this."
Canned food drives are popular around the holidays and can keep the shelves stocked, but the charity really thrives with cash donations.
2nd Harvest can get five meals out of every dollar donated, so the $80,000 they're hoping to raise will feed about half a million people in our region.
That's in the next two weeks. That would only meet the gap that's been created since the benefit reduction.
Jean Tucker is the development manager for 2nd Harvest. She's hoping for nothing short of a miracle.
"We have to make it happen one way or another because people are hungry and we need to respond to that," she said.
Petra said, "What good is Christmas presents if my children cannot eat so I stand in line for food because to me filling their stomach is more important to me."
You can donate to 2nd Harvest here: www.2-harvest.org