BELVIDERE- Having access to groceries just got tougher for thousands of families. Federal cuts to Illinois' SNAP program are now in effect. Local food pantries predict they'll be left to pick up the slack.
"We are anticipating that probably a lot more families and more people are going to be stepping into our building," said Lt. Tomas Valladares with The Salvation Army Belvidere.
Belvidere’s Salvation Army is already feeling the crunch especially with the holidays around the corner.
"This is the time where we know that with the holidays, and Christmas, and all that people have all of those expenses. And this is the time where our food pantry shelves go low," explained Valladares.
The number of people participating in food assistance programs is not dropping.
According to 2013 data released by the Illinois Department of Human Services nearly 70,000 people are using SNAP benefits in Boone and Winnebago counties. And more than 30,000 people in Stephenson, Ogle, and DeKalb County are also taking part.
"For those families that are already having a difficult time making ends meet it will have a significant impact on them. I would imagine that soup kitchens and food pantries and the like will see higher foot traffic due to this decrease," said Illinois Department of Human Services Communications Manager Januari Smith.
Already serving more than 100 families a month, this food pantry is hoping the community will show support and donate.
"We will continue helping those who will be affected and we'll try to do our best to accommodate that," said Valladares.
Unfortunately, with the federal budget already in dire straits the state reports more cuts are to be expected.
The Salvation Army in Belvidere is seeking volunteers to help with red kettle collections during the holidays. To sign up visit their location at 422 S. Main Street Belvidere, IL or call (815) 544-3892.