Families need hygiene and paper products that food stamps don't cover

CLEVELAND - Mary Ann Butler was down to her last $2 Friday, money that she planned to use to purchase toilet paper from a nearby dollar store.

"This is it," she said. "This is all I have."

Butler gets a monthly food stamp allotment, but it can only be used to purchase food.  For soap and other hygiene items, paper products, and laundry detergent,  she has to dip into the $35 a week she has in cash after her rent and bills are paid.

Many food pantries don't have those items available either.

"They come in here and they ask if we have any but unfortunately we don't have them because it's not in our budget to purchase those products," said Dee Dee Scoville, outreach facilitator at WSEM Food Centers on Cleveland's west side. "We count on donations to help our families out."

Food pantries are already seeing an increase in need since monthly food stamp benefits were reduced November 1, and more cuts are coming for thousands of Ohio recipients in January.

If you plan to make a donation to your favorite food pantry this holiday season, you can designate all or part of that donation for hygiene products.

"It's going to get worse," Butler said. "It's going to get worse."

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