BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Deep cuts to the federal food stamp program this week will put a strain on thousands of families statewide. But in Baltimore, city leaders are stepping in with a new way to cover some of the shortfall.

Gigi Barnett explains the program also shows how to stretch monthly food budgets.

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Eleven billion dollars in federal foot stamps are gone for thousands of families across the country. Food banks are stretched thin and bracing for more people needing their services.

But this weekend at Apples and Oranges Fresh Market in Baltimore, city leaders rolled out a program to help food stamp customers save.

“This is all about us coming together and trying to get through. We don’t know, like I said, when the gridlock in Washington is going to be released,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

It’s called Bonus Bucks, and thanks to a private grant, shoppers with food stamps can double their dollars and load up at the farmers’ market through December.

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“Under the program, when SNAP recipients spend five dollars, they will double the value to spend on SNAP-eligible foods at the farmers’ market,” Rawlings-Blake said.

About 30 percent of shoppers in Baltimore use food stamps. With the Thanksgiving holiday coming up, they’ll have to stretch their dollars even more.

“I was hurt on the job and it made me cut back on some of the things I was able to do when I was employed,” said shopper Carolyn Miles.

Now Miles looks out for some of her neighbors who saw their food stamps cut. She’s hoping Congress will reconsider the reduction.

“That’s a hurting to a large family. I also think we need our economy to be looked at a little more by all of our politicians,” Miles said.

The city is also teaming up with several grocery stores to offer classes that show shoppers how to eat healthy on a budget.

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