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Anti-hunger advocates urge Congress to pass Farm Bill

MILWAUKEE (WTAQ) - Now that you've saved the country from default, how about feeding your poor? 

That's what Wisconsin advocates for the hungry asked Congress Wednesday, when they pushed for a new five-year Farm Bill that includes funding for food programs. 

At a news conference in suburban Milwaukee, Sherri Tussler of the area's Hunger Task Force praised the last-minute congressional deal that ended the 16 day federal government shutdown.

She said it was great news, because food stamp recipients were running out of time to apply for their next monthly benefits. However, Tussler said the shutdown also delayed vital action on the Farm Bill -- which Congress failed to extend past September 30th amid a debate over how much to cut from the food stamp program. 

In the meantime, Audrey Wilson said her Milwaukee church pantry is scrambling to help those locked out from two nearby pantries that shut down. She said her facility almost collapsed from the sudden spike in demand. 

Roundy's Supermarkets donated $2,400 in food to keep her pantry going this month. Wilson said recipients have seen their benefits drop to as little as $16 a month -- only enough to give them bread, milk, and eggs. 

Freshman Assembly Democrat Katrina Shankland came down from Stevens Point to promote the cause. She said she spent a week on food stamps last summer -- and she only got $1.50 per meal, and could not afford most produce. 

In Shankland's words, "I basically had to eat carbs and subsist on that."