Farm Bill offers support for lllinois and Iowa nutrition programs

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Linda Murphy is part of an alarming statistic.

"Sometimes my money don't last the whole month," she said.

The Silvis woman represents 15% of Americans who don't get enough food. That's why she turns to the pantry at Christ United Methodist Church for help.

"I would stand in line just to get some extra food," she said.

The East Moline pantry continues to see more clients like Linda. It served about a thousand more people in 2013.

"We can only give so much," said Sue Swartz, who supervises the volunteer crew.

The new farm bill slices more than $8 billion in food stamp spending over the next decade. That could cut benefits to some 850,000 Americans. But the congressional compromise is far less severe than it could have been.

Cuts will go to some 17 so-called heat-and-eat states. These are states that tie utility assistance with food stamps.

"We are just very happy to get a farm bill passed," said Caren Laughlin, marketing director for the River Bend Food Bank in Davenport.

This legislation is really the best of all alternatives for the food bank. That will allow it to keep feeding the hungry with a variety of programs.

It's a busy scene inside on Friday. That's where the food bank fills orders for dozens of pantries that serve the needy.

"The cuts to food stamps will not affect Iowa and Illinois in any way," she said.

Food banks will also receive an extra $200 million. That will enhance its distribution of federal commodities.

"All the systems are in place for us to distribute the food," she said. "This is just going to mean that there will be more food for us to distribute."

That's good news for food pantries that are stretched to the limit.

"There's a great need," Swartz said.

Clients like Linda Murphy can be more than another number. She can get the help she needs.

"I know there's a lot of people in the economy that is hurting for food," she concluded.

Now, there will be food from a farm bill that continues to help Americans.