RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A crucial deadline hits Friday for people who receive food stamps through the Food Assistance Program.
The federal government could cut up to three months of benefits if recipients don’t meet a certain requirement.
Officials said this all ties back to the “Great Recession.”
North Carolina’s unemployment numbers have gone down, but thousands still depend on the Food Assistance Program.
During the recession, the government waived a requirement for those using the program. That requirement meant that anyone 18-49 years old who could physically work had to have 20 hours of work, volunteer opportunities or classes, otherwise they’d lose three months of benefits.
The policy is back in effect across North Carolina.
Officials with the Wake County Vocational Center told CBS North Carolina that they’re already seeing an impact.
“We’ve been able to provide with job leads and employment counseling and referrals to employment and training opportunities for them so they’re able to maintain their benefits while they are improving their situations,” said Janny Flynt with Wake County Vocational Services.
On the other hand, the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina isn’t confident that there are enough opportunities to go around.
“Unfortunately, the situation in 80 of 100 counties in North Carolina is there aren’t enough jobs for everybody that needs them,” said the Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC’s Jennifer Caslin.
Caslin estimates 35,000 people are being affected by the policy change. Many of them already rely on the food pantry.
“We are doing more and more and more. We were already stretched thin before this happened and if we see an increased need from this it’s going to hurt even more,” she said.
There are some exceptions to the policy change if the recipient is:
- Experiencing chronic homelessness
- Suffering substance abuse