Families Lose Food Assistance Benefits - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Families Lose Food Assistance Benefits

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RICHLAND, WA-- More than a million people in Washington will need to pare down their grocery lists.

Low-income families across the nation will notice a cut in their food assistance budget starting Friday.

In a study ranking states hardest hit by hunger, Washington came in at a surprising 15th place. And families in the area unable to make ends meet are turning to food banks to keep meals on the table.

Filling up the grocery cart at the food bank rather than the supermarket will become a little more common for many families on food assistance programs.

A benefit boost that started back in 2009 ended Friday cutting $5 billion worth of food stamp funding nationwide.

"People are really nervous. More nervous than I've ever seen them. They seem to be terribly concerned that this thing is not going to get better sooner," said John Neill, Tri-Cities Food Bank.

Neill says people using the Tri-Cities Food Bank are already coming in concerned and say they'll be leaning on the food bank to make it by.

An average family of three will lose about $30 a month with the recent reductions.

"This impacts everybody who gets food stamp benefits because every household is going to have some across the board reductions of assistance benefits that they get. They are going to decrease starting today," said John Wiley, Washington State Department of Social and Health Services.

In Benton and Franklin Counties, over $18,000 households will feel the impact of the cuts and more than $16,000 households in Yakima County.

Food banks aren't sure they'll be able to meet the increased demand especially after slow summer donations and the expected holiday rush.

"When you cut back on that, all that does is put additional pressure on the agencies that supply food to the people that need it. We just don't need any more clients right now. We've got more than we can handle," Neill said.

The Tri-Cities Food Bank says their food supplies are very low... And they're asking for people to donate especially now with the food assistance cuts.

Food bank employees and volunteers say they plan to ask lawmakers to reinstate some of the food benefits to people who need it the most.