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With food stamp cuts looming, food shelves expect surge in need

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The federal farm bill is set to expire at the end of the month and local officials who administer the food stamp program are unsure what comes next.

The St. Cloud Times reports food stamp use has steadily increased in the St. Cloud area since 2009. Officials there worry about whether food shelves will be able to pick up the slack once cuts in the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) kick in.

Congress has been haggling for more than a year over how much to trim the food stamp program by tightening eligibility. The group Hunger Solutions Minnesota tells the Times that even at current levels, more residents are turning to food shelves. They say reliance on food banks is up 59 percent statewide since 2007 and expect use will jump when more people lose their SNAP benefits.

A group of Minnesota farmers who traveled to Washington last week to lobby Congress on what a new farm bill should include came home discouraged. “It seems right now that this is not a high priority,” one told the Star Tribune.

The Minnesota Department of Human Services has more on the SNAP program here.

Learn more about Minnesota's food banks here.

A report issued early this month by the USDA found that in 2012 more than 10 percent of Minnesotans lacked consistent access to healthy food.

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