GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Thousands of food stamp recipients are now feeling the impact of a new statewide program implemented in July.
North Carolina food stamp recipients had a choice: work at least 20 hours a week or lose their benefits. They had until October to find work, so now reality is starting to set in for many.
This applies to able-bodied adults without dependents. There are some exemptions, like doing volunteer work or taking classes.
Pitt County Director of Social Services Jan Elliott says they lost 1,400 recipients between July and October.
“Usually it’s several hundred per month that we might fluctuate up or down. We’ve been pretty steady in the 30,000, 31-30,000 range for a pretty good while. So this was the most dramatic drop in a 3 month period of time that I’ve seen,” Elliott said.
On the plus side, Elliott says Pitt County’s employment training programs are growing. Just over 300 people have started these programs over the past few months. They’ve also developed more partnerships to offer more opportunities to work and volunteer. Elliott says they’re doing all they can to help on their end and hope people will do their part to take advantage of it.
“Obviously it’s concerning when folks lose benefits that they might need. But again, those folks, many of them made the choice whether to comply with the rules or not. Some perhaps didn’t understand the importance of reporting and that’s too bad,” Elliott said.
Pitt County’s Department of Social Services also had to hire more staff to be able to pull off these new programs. They didn’t reach full staff until September and are still working to get everyone trained.