Because their families can't live without food, The United Methodist Open Door Ministry is Debra Collins and Tina Steward's lifeline.
"I wouldn't have any food if it wasn't for the food bank," Collins says.
"I'm searching for a job right now," Steward says. "I'm a single mom with two children and I don't receive child support."
Every day the lobby at Open Door's food center is packed with hungry people trying to survive the bad economy. But next year there will be less food to go around. FEMA is cutting off nearly all Kansas charities from direct emergency food and shelter assistance--assistance they have been receiving every year for decades.
"We're having to decrease the amount of food that's in the food boxes," Open Door's executive director Deann Smith says. "So, instead of feeding a family for hopefully up to a week it's only going to be a couple of days."
Altogether, there are ten charities in Wichita alone which will lose funding because of FEMA budget cuts. That includes $50,000 less for Interfaith Ministries and Open Door, a $60,000 loss for the Salvation Army's utility assistance and homeless programs, and $110,000 less for the Center of Hope's homeless prevention program. Altogether, Sedgwick County charities lose nearly $400,000.
"I think everybody was anticipating some cuts, but nothing like this," United Way of the Plains president Patrick Hanrahan says. "I think it's fair to say that everybody was shocked when we got word it was down to zero this year."
And nobody is expecting it to just be temporary. Hanrahan says the general public can take action though, by donating more money to help make up the difference.
Charities in only seven Kansas counties qualified for the grants this year after FEMA toughened the requirements to include meeting minimum poverty and unemployment rates.