Budget cuts in Washington D.C. impact the Heartland - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Budget cuts in Washington D.C. impact the Heartland

MOUNT VERNON, IL (KFVS) -

Budget cuts made in the nation's capitol have a big impact here in the Heartland. Several agencies in the Jefferson County area are trying to figure out how to keep their programs a float. The deal reached over the debt ceiling is causing pain to their bottom lines.

The United Way of South Central Illinois gets some of it funds from the federal government. It then gives the money to a number of other groups that help feed and house people in need. But recently the United Way learned it will not receive $27,000 in federal cash.

For more than two decades the United Way of South Central Illinois has helped places like the Park Ave Baptist Church Food Pantry.  Director Frank Chrum fills a bag that will be given out to one of the more than 1,100 clients. 

"We're open three times a week and all three days we got lines of people out the door," Chrum said.  

Ginny McAlexander, 80, is one of those people. She and her husband live on Social Security.

But she says when seven extra family members moved in, she had to ask for help.

"I heard about the food party and came up here and it's saved our life really," McAlexander said.  

McAlexander is not alone. Chrum says just last week 45 new families came in for food.  He says the federal dollars filled a majority of the shelves with food.  But Chrum adds they're not sure how they'll continue to keep them full.

"What's going to happen is we are going to get 300 people in one day and half of them is going to get food and the other half is going to have to walk away hungry?" Chrum asked.  

"This is the letter we got yesterday from the emergency food and shelter program saying you are getting no dollars," United Way of South Central Illinois Executive Director Rhoda McCowen showed Heartland News.  

McCowen says that means nearly 10 agencies will no longer receive funds, like the Park Ave Baptist Church food pantry.

Another place is this new homeless shelter in Mount Vernon currently under construction. McCowen says that loss is some $12,000.

"These dollars went to make sure people didn't go hungry and they're bills in the winter time were paid if they struggled and we have so many families," McCowen said.

The reality of budget cuts in Washington, now cause pain thousands of miles away in Jefferson County.

"They should be careful what they cut," McAlexander said. "The little people is what we need it for, that's what America is about really the little people."

Chrum says a majority of its funding comes from the federal dollars. A loss, Chrum says they expect to feel as soon as next month.

Meanwhile, McCowen says they've upped fund raising goals. But she adds it's hard to ask people for more when so many are already struggling to get by.

Copyright 2011 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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