WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – President Donald Trump has proposed some budget cuts that will hit Kansas safety nets pretty hard, specifically the food stamp program which serves nearly 300,000 Kansans a year. 191 billion is the amount President Trump is looking to cut from this food assistance program over the next decade and the food banks here in Wichita are already doing what they can to get ahead of what may set many of the families that they serve, behind.
“They collected 117,000 pounds of food this year,” said Larry Gunkel of the Kansas Food Bank. “In the business we’re in, just one more can than we got last year is a very successful food drive so we’re elated with the results of this on.
Gunkel is the head of the Kansas Food Bank and he says the annual letter carrier food drive this year, brought in more food than they’ve seen in previous years. Currently, this bank distributes throughout 85 counties, which amounts to more than 600 pantries with volunteers who are helping to sort and distribute all the food that’s come in.
“The significant part of the program for the west tides group is that the food stays here in Wichita so we know we’re impacting our community and strengthening it,” said Judy Zimbelman, a volunteer at the food bank.
One of those pantries being impacted is United Methodist Open Door. This pantry is the largest in Kansas and the director, Deann Smith tells me the majority of the families they serve are on food stamps.
“It takes a lot of pieces to help people,” explained Smith. “The government is a partnership in that and when we lose that piece of the partnership, it means that more of us are going to have to step forward.”
Smith says they are very aware of the proposed budget cuts and believes there may be a stigma around people who receive food assistance.
“The families that we serve are working, they’re just not making enough or they’re on disability or they’ve lost their jobs and they just need that safety net to get back on their feet,” said Smith.