Archived Story

Food stamp cutbacks to hurt county families

Published 9:25am Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Average monthly reduction to be $50

A mild winter may have been appreciated last year, but because it brought lower natural gas costs, those who depend on food stamps for their family will be hit this year with what the county’s director of job and family services calls a significant cut.

“This is going to be a huge amount of reduction,” Gene Myers, JFS director, said.

On average the approximately 17,000 individuals who use the federal food stamp program will see a monthly cut of $50. The reduction was made by the Food and Nutrition Service that overseas the food allotment program.

That size of reduction galvanized JFS directors throughout the state in a protest.

“We asked them for a waiver,” Myers said. “That is entirely too much of a cut to these families. For whatever reason they didn’t allow it.”

Each family or individual on assistance is given a standard utility allowance that is the estimate by the federal government of what their monthly utility bills will be for a winter season. Last year that allowance was $533. This year it has been reduced to $367.

That allowance is used in the client’s budget to determine the amount of food stamps a recipient will receive. If the allowance goes up, food stamp allotment also goes up since it means a recipient will have a higher utility bill.

If the allowance goes down, the amount of food stamps also goes down since lower utility bills means the recipient would have more disposable income from Social Security or other such programs to pay for food.

“This is nothing new,” Myers said. “It goes up and down. This has been going on for a long time. Now this is a significant reduction in benefits. Our entire state directors asked can we have a waiver from the reduction because of the climate we are in. They didn’t grant that waiver.”

For the past five years Charles Bell has run Compassion First Food Pantry in Chesapeake, that is open one day a week serving families in the eastern end of Lawrence County. Even before the current food stamp cut, Bell has seen more people turning to his operation for help.

“We have been running 10 to 25 new families a week at our food pantry,” Bell said.

The food pantry had been serving 70 to 80 families a week. That figure started jumping this summer to 90 to 120 families a week.

“And the food banks don’t have the food there,” Bell said. “We have to go out and pay more retail price.”

Right now Bell spends $1,500 to $2,000 a month for food.

“It is hurting the people that are needing it the most,” he said.

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  • ramss01

    I would have to say that I disagree with you Mick. Most all of the people on assistance can get a job if they want one. There are plenty of jobs out there. Especially now with the holiday’s. The problem is most of these people are lazy and worthless. They get food stamps and medical cards and don’t want to work. Most of them are pot and pill heads. I would bet anything most all of them are on something.

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  • crackerjack

    My health insurance is going up $360 per month beginning January 1. Looks like people on food stamps are going to have to bite the bullet just like the rest of us. Welcome to our world!

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  • mickakers

    This is a significant deduction. Is there a reason they do not take the increase of food prices into consideration? Here in St. Augustine I have noticed quite a few first time clients in search of assistance due to the loss of jobs and unable to find replacement work. These people are not “lazy”, but victims of circumstance.

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  • chs71

    Our government needs to stop and take a long hard look at all of the assistant’s that is given out.
    It should be for our elderly people that have worked and paid into the system, and have fallen on hard times.
    It should be for the people that are working and are having difficulty stretching the budget.
    It shouldn’t be for these lazy people that continue to not work and have child after child. They sit at home buy their soda’s and cigarette’s, and do absoutley nothing. You see them pushing their children in the stores with their pant’s hanging down past theri rear-ends, smoking cigarette’s, it is discusting, and they are filling up their grocery carts with prepared food. Something is wrong with this picture. Their was a lady that came into Wal-mart and had a card worth $3,400.00 and purchasing items, she had a Kentucky drivers license, but had an Ohio card. For the life of me I don’t understand why we continue to give handouts. We need to help those that help themselves.
    I know Ohio pays more than the others states, but why is this not monitored?

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