LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- On May 1, thousands of Kentuckians will lose their food stamp benefits.

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services says a federal crackdown means some recipients who are able to work, but don’t, will no longer qualify for benefits.

Renee Bryant has run the food pantry for Fern Creek/Highview United Ministries for 18 years. Every day, she leads a team of volunteers filling food orders for hundreds of needy families. Unfortunately, business is good.

"We are seeing a lot of different families that we've never seen before come through our office," Bryant told WDRB News.

Bryant says she expects even more of an increase when changes to the food stamp or SNAP program take effect. Starting May 1, recipients who are considered able-bodied, age 18-49, and who do not have dependents, will no longer receive food stamps.

"For those who have chosen not to meet the federal work requirements or to enroll in employment and training programs, then those benefits will expire at the end of the month," said Doug Hogan, spokesman for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Since 2009, the federal government has waived the work requirement for food stamps recipients in Kentucky because of the recession. That waiver is ending. The change will affect 9,000 people in eight counties, including Jefferson, Bullitt and Hardin.

"Those were the counties that the federal government looked at the economic indicators and determined that, at least for now, with the economy being the way it is currently, there should be sufficient job opportunities for those people to gain employment," said Hogan.

The change is intended to make sure only those who need food stamps get them.

"We're happy to point people in any direction possible, and assist them in their efforts to try and find a job," said Hogan.

But Bryant is concerned many of those jobs won't pay enough to cover the bills.

"I think all the food banks and pantries within the region are going to see a huge spike," she said.

The Cabinet says the loss of those benefits should come as no surprise. Those affected began receiving notices last fall.

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