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100 Stories of Communities Stung By the Sequester

'Scissors by Ivydawned' photo (c) 2009, Ivy Dawned - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
How hard is it to find stories of people who are feeling the bite of the sequester? Well, it took two Huffington Post reporters just a few hours to dig up 100 stories of communities across the country that are suffering adverse effects because of the series of across-the-board cuts.

They found everything from longer emergency medical response times in Nebraska to kids being kicked out of Head Start programs in Pennsylvania. Most of the cuts impact hunger and poverty in some way—closed facilities and furloughs affect the ability of people to put food on their tables. Below is a sampling of just a few of the cuts, all attributed to the sequester, that had immediately measurable consequences for hungry and poor people:

 

Food pantry closed in Murray, Utah. The Salt Lake Community Action Program closed its food pantry, one of five locations that serve more than 1,000 people every month. Executive Director Cathy Hoskins told the Huffington Post that in addition to the closure, the organization has stopped paying into employees' retirement plans, won't fill an open job and told some staffers to take a week's unpaid leave. 

Meals on Wheels cut in central Maine. Spectrum Generations, central Maine's agency on aging, will essentially have to cut 9 percent of its budget, meaning that programs like Meals on Wheels may not deliver to all the seniors who rely on it. 

Poverty-fighting program suspended in West Virginia. West Virginia workers with VISTA -- the national service program designed to fight poverty -- remain in limbo due to sequestration. For the rest of the fiscal year, there will be no new VISTA projects in the state, no new VISTA workers starting service and those whose terms end will not be allowed to renew for another year with the group.

Uncertainty for dairy farmers nationwide. The U.S. Agriculture Department traditionally collects data and puts out monthly reports on milk production. Dairy farmers use those reports to determine production, while milk processors and brokers use them to set prices. Under sequestration, these reports have been suspended, alarming farmers. “Not having the reports can have significant impacts because there is no way of knowing what the supply will be,” said Greg Bussler, a Wisconsin statistician for the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. 

The impact of the sequester may not be the lead story on the news every night, but that doesn't meant that Americans aren't feeling these harmful cuts.

The sequester is in effect and will impose a 5 percent across-the-board cut to federal programs—including the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program from Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and poverty-focused development assistance (PFDA)—for the remainder of fiscal year 2013. But the sequester does not have to stay in effect! Contact your members of Congress and tell them to replace the sequester with a balanced plan for deficit reduction that includes revenue and does not balance the federal budget on the backs of hungry and poor people.

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