HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - New rules are now in effect for single adults who want to receive SNAP benefits - if residents don't have a job or aren't training for one, it could impact their benefits.
Ron George is one of 720 Hancock County residents receiving SNAP benefits with no dependents. He says the new mandate is not a bad idea.
"I think it's good. It will make people get off their butts," said George.
George says he would welcome an employment opportunity, but finding a job has been tough.
"I don't mind working if I know what I'm doing. Of course, you've got to have transportation and experience. Most of these jobs are in Gulfport or Biloxi and that's like 20 miles away, so it's pretty tough," explained George.
DHS leaders say there will be some people who will qualify for an exemption from the work requirements.
"If you're pregnant, you're exempt from the program. If you're over the age of 50 or under the age of 18, you're exempt. If you're receiving disability, you're exempt from this program. So what we do in the orientation process is we look at all of the potential exemptions that we could possibly give for this individual to continue to get benefits," said MDHS SNAP Manager Camile Johnston.
Those deemed eligible for employment could be put to work doing community service for a public or private nonprofit organization for 20 hours or more per week. They could also enroll in an educational or job training program, or prove they are actively searching for work through the WIN Job Center.
Johnston said, "During that first 30 days of job searching they're required to do a specific number of contacts per week, contacts meaning submit an application for employment inquiring about interviews, looking at the classifieds for specific jobs and stuff like that. As they work with the Mississippi Employment Security they create a profile of their educational and work history."
Anyone deemed eligible for work and refuses will have their benefits restricted to three months within a three year period.