Filling the SNAP void

Filling the SNAP void

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A new policy means around 25 percent of residents receiving food stamps on the coast could be set to lose their SNAP benefits. This is causing one food bank in Hancock County to gear up for an influx.

It's groceries on demand at the Hancock County Food Pantry. Residents come in, register then you hear over a loud speaker "food for a family of four" and out it comes in grocery carts pushed by volunteers.

Since the pantry opened nearly 30 years ago, it has put food on the table for more than $250,000 people. Jean Collins, of Pearlington, is just one of them.

"I can usually count on the food bank here providing me edible food," said Collins.

Collins lives on a fixed income and gets by with only a monthly social security check. She's over the age limit for the able-bodied work program, but believes the pantry will become a much busier place once folks start losing their food stamps for noncompliance.

"We have always served a lot of families that were receiving SNAP benefits," said Food Pantry board member John Wittliff.

Wittliff said right now it's too early to say what impact those who loose SNAP benefits will have on the place, but he says the food pantry will be prepared for an influx.

"Basically, we've got the resources to handle an influx of families, at least for a few months," explained Wittliff.

He says that significant influx may require additional support from the community.

"We will have to see exactly what the impact is going to be, whether we will have to go out for more grants or appeal to the community for additional support. Doing food drives, food we can receive from churches or receive financial donations. Last year, the community provided 45 percent of our financial donations. All came from the community," said Wittliff.

The SNAP benefit change requires people considered able-bodied adults to be actively searching for work, enrolled in a job training program or volunteer time to a nonprofit organization.

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