July 1 marks the next wave in food stamp restrictions for most WNC counties

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, June 23, 2016

On July 1, the majority of WNC counties will implement a work requirement for many seeking support from Food and Nutrition Services (FNS), the food stamp program in North Carolina. This requirement affects individuals 18 to 49 years of age that are categorized as ABAWD – Able-Bodied Adult without Dependents – regardless of the availability of employment.

The ABAWD work requirement affects thousands of eligible FNS recipients and applicants across WNC. If the work requirement is not met, individuals that fall into this category are only eligible to receive FNS benefits for three months within a three-year period.

This federal work requirement states that an individual must work 20 hours a week, or volunteer at an accredited non-profit agency for 20 hours a week. These hours are averaged monthly, so the individual must work or volunteer for 80 a month in order to be eligible to receive FNS benefits.

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Residents in the following WNC counties will be affected by this rule change starting July 1, 2016: Avery, Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Swain, Transylvania and Yancey. Buncombe, Haywood and Henderson counties saw this rule change go in to effect on January 1.

While the unemployment rate for North Carolina currently stands at 5.1 percent (seasonally adjusted), the WNC counties affected by the FNS rule change are experiencing higher unemployment, ranging from 5.4 – 9.2 percent. This higher-than-state average unemployment rate, which reflects those actively looking for work, is concerning for MANNA’s service area, and could play a negative role in those affected by the ABAWD work requirement.

An available resource for support includes the MANNA Food HelpLine. The toll-free number is 1-800-820-1109.

– article submitted
by Kari Irani