The federal Food Stamp program, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, underwent changes beginning in October of 2013, and as a result, local charities that provide food are now seeing an increase in usage.
Adults between the age of 18 and 50 with no dependents can get SNAP benefits for three months in a 36 month period if they do not work or participate in employment training.
In addition, all able bodied adults must register for work and accept suitable employment. They are expected to spend 30 percent of their net income on food.
The amount people can receive has been reduced if they qualify. According to www.srs.ks.gov website, the average per person amount of assistance was $124.19 in 2013. It is now $118.56.
The Great Bend Food Bank has seen an increase in the number of people who come in, particularly at the end of the month, said Jennie Gordy, office manager for the Food Bank, located at 3007 10th St. In Nov. 2012, they saw 605 people. In Nov. 2013, they saw 636.
The Food Bank does have rules on frequency of usage.
“We’ve seen an increase number of people come in due to food stamps being cut,” she said. “Most people on food stamps have been cut. We’re seeing an increase at the end of the month when they run out.”
The Food Bank accepts donations and is in need of canned soups, ramen noodles, pasta, dried beans, spaghetti sauce and cereal.
One organization affected by the cuts is the Central Kansas Dream Center, which includes the Life Giving Center for women in a state of homelessness, the soup kitchen, and a program for those with life altering addictions.
No longer can they receive food stamps while in the six month recovery program as most have used up their three month allotment by the time they enter the program, said Kimberly Becker, director. While those in the six month program do work two days per week, their compensation goes back to CKDC to pay for expenses.
The other three days of the week are spent in Bible study and study of Teen Challenge Curriculum, concentrating on character qualities and healthy living. The recovery portion of CKDC opened in August, 2013.
The food expense to run the entire facility has increased and become a frequent issue.
“We have 22 people on- and off-site to feed. We’re making more trips to the Food Bank,” Becker said. The facility is run completely by donations and grants. All of the programs are free to clients.
“It has increased our budget by $1,000 per month,” said Becker.
“I continue to pray for a cow,” she said. “People are generous to try to help us.” Churches that have been having Lenten lunches having been taking leftovers to CKDC.
Becker has taken additional steps to cover the need for food filling out an application for orders with the Kansas Food Bank.
Plus, she looks at the positive. Prior to the cuts, each person in the programs bought their own food and cook separately, excepting the soup kitchen. The new plans are to cook together and eat together.
“We’ll teach better skills and healthier eating,” said the director.
•Catholic Social Services, 2201 16th, offers nonfood assistance to those in need. This can include formula, tooth paste and diapers.
The rules are that people can only come once a month. The hours are MWF from 1-5 p.m. and it is staffed by volunteers.
They also accept donations and have refrigerator magnets for monthly reminders.
•U.S. government commodities are given out to low-income families and the elderly. There are income requirements for that program as well. The program distributes food such as cheese and cereal.
•Prairie Land Food is a once a month food program where participants pay reduced cost for healthy food. For more information, call 620-793-7100 or search www.prairielandfood.com.