Mid-South Food Bank worried with new food stamp benefits changes

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Hundreds of thousands of people depending on the federal food stamp program will soon be losing benefits, and the cut could also cause changes for another group.

The new changes create tighter work requirements for people who use the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP).

Those affected are 18 to 49 years old. The new plan will limit states from exempting work-eligible adults from having to maintain a steady job in order to get the benefits. The goal is to encourage people to return to work.

The Department of Agriculture estimates the change would save roughly $5.5 billion over five years, cutting benefits to roughly 688,000 people.

When it comes to those benefit changes, some of the places anticipated to feel a strain in the future are food banks.

"The need would be greater for us to get additional food out to support our local pantries," said Cathy Pope, president and CEO of the Mid-South Food Bank.

The Mid-South Food Bank serves 31 counties and helps about 370,000 people in the Mid-South area.

As it stands now, the food bank is always in need.

"(It's) a little worrisome just because we like to be on the front end of the need," Pope said.

Pope's concern is that people living in rural areas, a few of the areas they already serve, have a high unemployment rate and already receive government waivers.

"It's harder to make a decent wage when you have those lack of jobs in those communities, in our rural communities," Pope said.

It's important to note, those who are not affected by this are children or their parents, the disabled or anyone over the age of 50.

The changes are set to take effect in April 2020.

The Mid-South Food Bank is always taking donations through its website.

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