Iowa religious groups and advocates for the poor are joining forces to lobby against proposed cuts in the government’s food stamp program. Reverend Robert Crandall of the Maple Grove United Methodist Church is also executive director of a Des Moines center that provides help to the poor. “Friends, we’ve had a problem for a long time and our problem is growing,” Crandall says. Crandall and other members of the “Iowa Human Needs Advocates” have launched a website — www.stopthecutstoiowa.org — to lobby against cuts in federal food aid. “I can testify to the growing number of families, many of whom are the ‘new working poor,’ who are unable to make ends meet and are either doing without food or depending on supplemental resources,” Crandall says. Twenty-seven-year-old Jason Broste of Waterloo says after his recent medical discharge from the military, he has found it difficult to pay for his medical care, schooling and food. “It’s a shame the way things are going…the fact that I could be deployed overseas but once I’m discharged, I’m not able to support myself completely,” Broste says. He is now signed up for food stamps, and he says it feels good to be able to buy good food again. “Basically being able to purchase like quality milk, quality foods, good bread…being able to get a decent cut of meat,” Broste says. Broste says food stamps are helping him get back on his feet. Genive King, coordinator of the Seventh Day Adventist Ministries for the Des Moines area, says her agency’s already helping about one-thousand poor people a month with food and other necessities. “I cringe when I hear of the possibility of food stamps being reduced. Where will people go for help?” King asks. “I have a feeling it’s going to be the local agencies who are already maxed or nearly maxed to their capacities.” Charlie Wishman of the Food Bank of Iowa says the group is urging Iowa Senators Charles Grassley and Tom Harkin to act. Wishman says Iowans can log onto the website and send an electronic message to the senators. Managers of the Des Moines Area Religious Council Food Pantry say demand for their food assistance has doubled in the past three years.
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