As the executive director of Bluffton Self Help, Lili Coleman works closely with people struggling to make ends meet.
When she thought about the more than 47 million people across the country affected by Friday's cuts to food stamps, one specific face came to mind.
He's 83, owned a gourmet food store for much of his life and is now retired, living off Social Security in an RV. He has watched his food stamps reduced from about $80 a month, to about $50 and then to $36.
Then Coleman remembered another woman, whom she recently helped apply for a variety of assistance programs. When the woman learned she was eligible for $16 a month in food stamps, she leapt from her chair and hugged Coleman.
For people living on the financial edge, a few dollars from the food stamps program, known formally as the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program, can make the difference, Coleman said.
In Beaufort County during September, 8,687 families -- 18,762 people -- received almost $2.5 million in assistance, according to the S.C. Department of Social Services.
Last Friday, a temporary benefit from the 2009 economic stimulus that boosts food-stamp dollars will no longer be available. According to the U.S. Agriculture Department, that means a family of four receiving food stamps will start receiving $36 less a month.
The benefits, which go to 1 in 7 Americans, fluctuate based on factors that include food prices, inflation and income. The rolls have swelled as the economy has struggled in recent years, with the stimulus providing higher benefits and many people signing up for the first time.
As a result, the program has more than doubled in cost since 2008, to almost $80 billion a year. That large increase in spending has turned the program into a target for House Republicans looking to reduce spending. Congress has started negotiating further cuts to the program, which is attached to a wide-ranging farm bill.
In Beaufort County, charities that provide emergency and food assistance expect the cuts to push more people through their doors.
Bluffton Self Help is providing food to 400 to 500 people every week.
HELP of Beaufort's needs are up -- 16 to 18 families seeking food come in daily -- executive director Steve Curless said.
The Deep Well Project on Hilton Head Island is providing an average of five families a day with a week's worth of groceries, staff assistant Sherry Pritchard said.
"Food prices are going up, and people are out of work," she said.
Pritchard said the closing of the S. C. Department of Social Services office on Hilton Head last year has already made it more difficult for families because they have to visit or fax information to the Beaufort office. Follow-up telephone interviews are a struggle because many of those families use pre-paid phones and don't always have minutes, she said.
"It's very difficult to see that it's not convenient for people who are already having issues to begin with," she said. "But we're trying to work with the stumbling blocks."
Deep Well says it should be in good shape for food, but Coleman said Bluffton Self Help is running low and needs donations.
Curless said that as the number of families seeking help increases, he has to think about reducing how much is given out. But that's difficult knowing how important a few dollars' worth of food will be to people, especially with the increased food-stamp cuts.
"To the people who get that money, it's going to seem pretty devastating," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.