There are new requirements for those trying to get food stamps in Kentucky. Applicants in eight commonwealth counties must put in their time before receiving food stamps. It’s part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
The Cabinet for Health and Family Services says the state applied for a partial waiver. Officials say Henderson and eight other counties wouldn’t be waived because these counties have the most resources, education possibilities and community partner support.
Helping the hungry is part of the job, but stricter food stamp guidelines could mean more people trying to find a way to fill hungry bellies.
“Now with the new regulations, if they choose to not work it might hurt them in order to get food in here,” Henderson Community Christian Outreach Executive Director Mary Dunham said. “If the state of Kentucky is requiring you to work for the benefits they are giving you, then we might have to be a little different on our food pantry clients too.”
Those between the ages of 18 and 50 who are able to work, have to document 20 hours a week at a job, doing volunteer work or taking classes. This was effective January 1st. Dunham agrees with the new regulations and says she has been busier than normal in the past week.
“They’re receiving $600, $700, $800 in food stamp benefits and you wonder if all that is going for food or if they are selling that for some other reasons,” she said.
Coleen Rice is a food stamp recipient and says she volunteers at Henderson Community Christian Outreach five days a week.
“If I could work I would, but there’s just nothing,” she said. “I could do a little bit but after awhile, it’s my back. I have knots there.”
Chronic back pain has put Rice on disability, but she thinks those able to work should have to show some progress to receive.
“They can put some kind of effort to it why not?” she said. “They ain’t got nothing else to do.”
The new regulations leave people like Rice and Dunham with plenty to do.
Officials say folks have three months to comply with the new requirements before being disqualified from the benefits they are currently receiving.