By Lindsey Temple
News Star Reporter
With the holidays around the corner some Garvin County families are tightening the purse strings due to recent cuts within the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP.
In 2009 the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act went into effect, increasing SNAP benefits for participants in the program.
The increase was meant to be temporary, assisting families who were feeling the pinches of a strained economy, the allotment was projected to run out in November 1, 2013 and as of October 1 the government did not vote to continue the Act, bringing an end to increased assistance outside of cost of living.
According to Garvin County DHS Director Beth Scrutchins, these cuts will be felt across the board.
“This will affect most every family benefiting from SNAP, anywhere from $11 to $65 less per month, in every state,” said Scrutchins.
According to Scrutchins, notices of this change were recently mailed out to all 4500 Garvin County residents’ participating in the food assistance program.
Additional changes are also on the horizon for a small group of SNAP participants.
Governor Mary Fallin recently elected to discontinue a nation-wide waiver giving SNAP benefits to able-bodied adults without children, between the ages of 18-49.
SNAP participants with no dependants, that are not pregnant, disabled and are between 18 to 49 years of age will be required to work 80 hours a month to continue receiving benefits.
“In the past the job requirement had been waived because of the recession,” explained Scrutchins, “but the Oklahoma job market really seems to be on the up and up now.”
Those that do not gain employment will only be allotted 3 months of SNAP benefits within a 36 month period.
“This change really doesn’t apply to a large number of people in Garvin County, we do see some but I think there is a common misconception about who receives these benefits, we mainly see families with children and single parents,” explained Scrutchins.
There have been no notices sent out regarding the employment requirements but Scrutchins urges anyone who might have questions about any of the changes to call the Garvin County DHS office at 405-238-5519.
Already strained local food pantries have been aware of these upcoming changes and are trying to prepare for additional needs.
“No matter how you feel about the food stamp program, people have to eat. We provide for an elderly woman that receives $10 a month in food stamps and that’s just not enough, I don’t know what she would do with us,” said Lou Hall President of the Pauls Valley Samaritans as she addressed the Pauls Valley Chamber of Commerce urging them to give to local food banks and pantries.
Area Food Pantries
The Pauls Valley Samaritans
Cornerstone Community Church
Elmore City First United Methodist Church
Maysville Assembly of God