Food stamp program growing, but more in need of help

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

HARRISBURG, AR (KAIT) - Grocery bills add up for all of us but for some families who are down to one income or no income, it is more difficult to pay.  Over the past couple of years the number of families across Region 8 who have started to receive food stamps has gone up.

"It's increased since the economy has been as it is now we have a lot more people who are receiving benefits," said Poinsett County Department of Human Services Administrator Dianne Stirling.

In the month of November alone the DHS office in Poinsett County took in almost 500 applications and they say that's about normal this time of year.  While they are seeing more people come in and apply, Stirling said many more could be helped.

"I think there are a lot of people that don't even consider that they might be eligible," said Stirling.

The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program helps provide basic nutritional needs. Eligibility is based on income and the number of people in the household.

"We see homeless people with just one person, we see single mothers with children, we see single dads with children," said Stirling.

They also see full families and elderly couples living on a fixed income.  Stirling said in many cases, some people are reluctant to ask for help.

"They just don't want to have to ask for anything and I think a lot of them probably would be eligible for benefits if they would just apply," said Stirling.

A household of four can receive up to $668 a month.  Money can be used to pay for any food products that can be prepared at home.  Items like alcohol, cleaning and paper products can not be purchased.

"If you're eligible then you need the benefits and we want to see that you do get them," said Stirling.

Starting in January folks can check to see if they are eligible or apply on-line through Access Arkansas.  The system will allow you to answer questions to check and see if you can get the benefits without putting in any of your personal contact information.  If you are eligible and do wish to apply you will have to submit that information.

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