- Associated Press - Monday, April 4, 2016

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Advocates fear West Virginia’s plan to make food stamp recipients meet a work or training requirement could increase the burden of food banks.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail (https://bit.ly/200cwx7 ) reports that the state Department of Health and Human Resources announced last year that it would reinstate a requirement calling on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients to meet a monthly work or training requirement of 20 hours per week. Recipients who don’t comply after three months are kicked out of the program. The changes took effect in January.

Chad Morrison, executive director of the Mountaineer Food Bank, says the changes will discourage people from applying for SNAP and the burden of supplying additional hunger relief would subsequently fall on food banks.

Mountaineer Food Bank currently distributes to 440 feeding programs in 48 West Virginia counties.

“Our distribution has grown exponentially over the last several years,” Morrison said. “A lot of working-class families visit food pantries. It’s not just a place for people in poverty.”

Ellen Allen, director of Covenant House in Charleston, said her agency’s food pantry also expects to feed more people.

“We have such great support from the faith community that we’re trying to increase donations and also budget for a little more food buying,” Allen said.

The Department of Health and Human Resources says about 7,000 SNAP recipients have still not spoken with the department about their work intentions. The department says those recipients are most at risk of losing benefits.

The Center on Budget and Priorities, a research institute that conducts analyses on government programs, estimates that more than 500,000 people are expected to lose SNAP benefits this year.


Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, https://wvgazettemail.com.

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