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      Food stamp cuts force families to seek additional help

      S tarting Friday, millions of families throughout the state will lose some of their food benefits

      B ack in 2009 , C ongress signed off on a four year plan to add money to the federal food stamps program. T hat deal ends tomorrow.

      Each person on food stamps will see a different amount slashed from their budget. For example a family of four will lose $36 a month.

      Single working mother Katie Menestrina from Bellaire says $36 goes a long way to help her support her three growing children.

      " They're eating more and more and more and I'm working more and more ," Menestrina said.

      S he says that amount alone accounts for the bread, milk , and eggs she purchases each month.

      T o make up for this loss , she is now looking to pick up an extra job . However in the meantime she has turned to the local food pantry to help get by.

      " Just to be able to come here once a month and be able get a few extras gets me over the hump ," Menestrina said. " I'm hoping I won't have to use it for a long time , but right now I am and I am very grateful for it."

      The need at local pantries is already going up and many are expecting a large increase in traffic.

      " There are families that are going to have a shortfall in their income and it may become harder to pay their bills each month ," Deb Norblett, Manna Food Project Executive Director said. " I anticipate the need for families to use food pantries and other agencies are going to continue in the future."

      T o some , $ 36 may seem like a small amount , but it can make a difference over a year's time. A family of four will lose more than $430 over the course of the year .

      Overall, t he federal cuts will add up to more than $180 million dollars for Michigan food stamp users.