Members of the Yadkin County Human Services Department will be attending training later this month in regard to a revised policy for certain recipients of food stamps. The program was mentioned briefly by Director Kim Harrell during last week’s meeting of the Yadkin County commissioners.
The program changing is what is known as ABAWDS or Able Bodied Adults without Minor Dependents. This type of food stamp program has existed for sometime Harrell explained, and prior to five years ago, food stamp recipients in this category were retired to work. Due however to the downturn in the economy, five years ago the United States Department of Agricultural instituted a federal waiver on that requirement.
Harrell explained that the waiver was put in place due to the poor economic climate which likely would prevent individuals from finding a job. As the economy has now begun to slowly reinvigorate, that waiver in the ABAWDS program will be ending effective Jan. 1, 2016. Yadkin County is among 23 counties in the state with a low unemployment rate and therefore able bodied individuals without minor dependents will once again be required to work in order to receive food stamp benefits.
“It’s all connected to the unemployment rate being low,” Harrell said. “If the unemployment rate is low that basically means that able bodied people can go out here and get a job and they don’t need to be on food stamps anymore.”
Harrell said under the ABAWDS program individuals must either work, volunteer or take job training courses in order to receive benefits.
As far as what determines someone to be able bodied, Harrell said essentially that would mean they have not been determined disabled by the Social Security Administration. At the training Sept. 28-30, Harrell said they will learn additional information on other individuals who potentially would not be considered able bodied and therefore not fall into the category that would be required to work in order to receive food stamp benefits.
Again, Harrell reiterated there are very few food stamp recipients in Yadkin County who fall into this category to begin with as the ABAWDS program specifically relates to individuals without children/dependents.
Harrell explained in order to qualify for food stamps, the primary thing taken into consideration is the number of mouths to feed per household therefore low income families with multiple children are the most likely to receive food stamp benefits. These individuals are not required to work in order to claim those benefits.
For more information on the food stamp program in Yadkin County, visit http://www.yadkincountync.gov/index.aspx?NID=268.
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 36-679-2341 or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.