According to a new study, working-age people now make up the majority in households that rely on food stamps, which is a huge switch from a few years ago, when children and the elderly were the main recipients of the government assistance program.
But, the slow economic recovery is also playing a role. With high unemployment, low wages, and an increasing divide between low-wage and high-skill jobs, many Americans have needed a little extra help.
In his State of the Union Address Tuesday night, President Obama is expected to focus on reducing income inequality, and raising the federal minimum wage. While congress on the other hand is still debating a four billion dollar cut to the food stamp program.
Government officials say many of the U.S. jobs that are now being created are low or minimum wage, which means that the use of food stamps will stay high for some time. Locally for the residents and food pantries that rely on these programs, say that they have slowly seen an increase in the number of people that they serve.
"There's people that are trying, there's some people are trying to hold part-time jobs and things like that, but they also need some assistance too, and that's why they have the food stamps. But if that's cut we'll definitely be seeing more people," said Sheila Tennant, Director of the Soup Opera in Fairmont.
Some of the people on the food stamp program are either working one or two jobs, or facing unemployment. They told 5 News that losing that program would be completely devastating and unless the minimum wage were to increase, a lot of people simply wouldn't be able to survive.
"I hope it does stay around for the people that need it, because a lot of people can't get out and work when they have kids, so it's real important," said Gina Ridenour.
"Especially if you have kids, they need food and everything, and if that's taken away you never know what will happen," said Mikayla Dillow.
Local residents also told 5 News that they still feel that even having a job hasn't made them feel fully self-sufficient in today’s economy.
Jan 29, 2014 at 6:33 AMThere was a time limit and a limit to how much welfare one could get in a lifetime. But Obama even keeps extending unemployment benefits to the unemployed and that is not supposed to be a lifetime benefit either! Politicians 'using' food stamps and unemployment benefits and now illegal alien immigration 'reform' to 'buy' future VOTES. It's disgusting and a trick used by dishonest politicians. It's as plain as the nose on your face. Liberal tactics for future votes. They don't care anymore what's best for the country; its' "what's best for me, me, me, me..."
Jan 28, 2014 at 5:11 PMThere WAS a time limit on it. There WAS also a limit on unemployment benefits..........until the 'who cares about the constitution OR congress' President Obama got into office. Now...he has a pen....and he doesn't care what you or anyone else thinks....or what the laws say....or that silly little thing called our Constitution says....he's gonna pass his own laws. Thanks lazy people for voting for the big lie he told about 'free' healthcare...free everything...rest of us have to pay for stupid people.
Jan 28, 2014 at 12:52 PMI revamp of the program is needed. There should be a time limit in which you are given federal assistance. (I.E. If you are on food stamps, you should have to document your work history and/or your attempt to seek employment. There should also be some type of spending monitoring to ensure that those using federal assistance are not spending money on wants versus need.) Too many freeloaders out there are hurting the United States and those members of society who actually need federal assistance. The, "what have you done for me lately" or "handout, what are you going to do for me" attitudes are playing a crucial role in the poor economic standing of our country.