Some food stamp recipients must now go to work to receive benefi - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Some food stamp recipients must now go to work to receive benefits

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- New rules will mean a change in lifestyle for some who receive food stamps.

Some recipients must now get a job.

The food stamp work requirement is not entirely new, but Kentucky has received a federal waiver since 2009 because of the recession.

The rules are back and, for some, that means going to work.

The work requirement applies to those between 18 and 50 years of age, who are able-bodied, with no children in the home.

They must now have a job, go to class or volunteer at least 20 hours a week in order to receive food stamp or SNAP benefits.

The reason is the improving economy.

“The federal Food Nutrition Service made the decision that statewide waivers would no longer be available to states, and that's why we've had to move forward with re-implementing this program,” said Virginia Carrington, director of Kentucky’s Division of Family Support for the Department for Community Based Services.

“A lot of the people that we seem to meet that are low income, they really want to do better but there are so many barriers to them achieving their goals,” said Kim Embrey-Hill, director of the Multi-Purpose Community Action Agency.

Her organization serves low-income clients in three counties, including Bullitt.

Embrey-Hill says she understands the reason for the new rules.

“I know people see some people that they believe are taking advantage of the system. Those people do exist. We can't deny that those people exist,” she said.

The work requirement affects 17,000 food stamp recipients in eight counties, including Jefferson, Bullitt and Hardin.

“Those are the counties that we felt had the most available resources to help serve this target population in terms of finding them employment opportunities,” said Carrington.

But Embrey-Hill says the big challenge for some will be transportation.

“Bullitt County has employment opportunities, and there's also lots of opportunities to volunteers. But if people can't get there, then they're not going to be able to do that,” she said.

State officials say it may be a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity.

“For those who are interested in truly trying to become self-sufficient, and working towards obtaining employment, this is a good opportunity for them that they can take advantage of,” said Carrington.

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