CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — As the debt ceiling bill vote was taking place in the Senate, the social services team at Loaves and Fishes/Friendship Trays is already starting to field calls from people wondering how the legislation is going to impact them. 

“They’re very concerned how this is going to impact them,” said Sue Bruce, director of marketing at Loaves and Fishes/Friendship Trays. “Just today, we probably fed close to 400 people through our food pantries in Mecklenburg County.” 

The organization provides groceries for Charlotte-Mecklenburg residents, and Bruce says the number of people served has gone up since COVID-era SNAP benefits expired in March. Now, with the expected passage of the debt ceiling bill, she says they’re bracing for another wave. 

The bill would require able-bodied adults 54 years old or younger to work 80 hours a month to receive food stamps. That’s an increase from the current age cap of 49. 

“A lot of the people that we feed that fall in that age group, they they’re suffering from chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes that really impact their ability to work and hold a full-time job,” Bruce said. 

While Bruce and her team work to help those living on the margins, their job has become increasingly more difficult. 

“Food drive numbers have gone down,” she said. “People just don’t have that extra income to spend to donate food. So, we’re having to purchase more.” 

Bruce says they’ve already blown through their food purchasing budget this year. 

“In our fiscal year 2021, we spent $100,000 in the first six months on food,” Bruce said. “This fiscal year we’ve already spent $600,000.” 

She says they’ll continue to fill the shelves and stomachs as long as they’re around. 

“In our 48-year history, we have never had to turn anyone away for lack of food and we are not going to start now.”