Traffic Increases At Food Pantries, Aid Programs

Food stamp debit cards working again after outage

by nearly 10 percent. While this point remains relatively uncontroversial, the primary point of argument in this farm bill between these two groups of lawmakers is the concept of food stamps for the poor. These food stamps, aimed at providing a means to buy enough food for low-income families in America (particularly children, the elderly, the disabled, or the unemployed), play an important role in the lives of many people who live in our great country. According to most recent statistics, adds the report, a high record of almost 48 million people are receiving food stamp privileges that equal up to roughly $133 per family per month worth of necessary food. It is the currently Republican-controlled House of Representatives that aims to take a major cut into the delayed U.S. anti-hunger program by a massive $40 billion within the next ten years, which is well over nine times the amount that the same reduction is being suggested by the Senate, which is diametrically Democrat-controlled at this point in time. The stricter eligibility rules enforced by the House would sever over four million people from eligibility for food stamps by next year, 2014. This food stamp bill is thus something that will affect many Americans here in the U.S. The currently House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, is a major supporter of these budget cuts, and hopes that these reforms will help with the nations expenditure in terms of farm-related profits, growth, and U.S. finances. “We believe by reforming food stamps we will save the program for the truly needy,” Virginia Foxx, a North Carolina Republican, summed up this Friday. What is your reaction to the delayed food stamp bill debate?

Contractors among those shut out by shutdown

“You don’t want children going hungry tonight because of stupidity,” she said. Colman said the store manager promised her that he would honor the day’s store flyer discounts next week. Wasmer said the states affected by the temporary outage also included Alabama, California, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia. Ohio’s cash and food assistance card payment systems went down at 11 a.m., said Benjamin Johnson, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Johnson said Xerox asked retailers to revert to a manual system, meaning customers could spend up to $50 until the system was restored. Illinois residents began reporting problems with their cards — known as LINK in that state — on Saturday morning, said Januari Smith, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Human Services. Smith said that typically when the cards aren’t working retailers can call a backup phone number to find out how much money customers have available in their account. But that information also was unavailable because of the outage, so customers weren’t able to use their cards. “It really is a bad situation but they are working to get it fixed as soon as possible,” Smith said. In Clarksdale, Miss. — one of the poorest parts of one of the poorest states in the nation — cashier Eliza Shook said dozens of customers at Corner Grocery had to put back groceries when the cards failed Saturday because they couldn’t afford to pay for the food. After several hours, she put a sign on the front door to tell people about the problem.

Sam noted requests for help in some areas of the state have been up since before the shutdown began. Jacqueline Miller with End Hunger in Calvert County said her nonprofit received an influx of emails from federal workers asking if regulations permitted them to seek help. Her group responded by organizing an event targeted to workers and businesses that rely on them as customers. The group distributed 2,700 pounds of food to 71 families at its first “Food for Furlough” event and is planning another one for Monday in Huntingtown. Miller said the group is not checking federal identification anyone who needs help can receive it so it’s impossible to say how many receiving help have been directly affected by the shutdown. “If you own a gas station or you own a restaurant [frequented by federal workers ], you’re not getting that pay back, which is a real loss,” Miller said. “We wanted to help fill in that gap.” The increase in requests has not been limited to food programs. Howard County Executive Ken Ulman said Friday officials received at least two dozen calls from residents unable to pay water and sewer bills because of the shutdown. The county announced it will suspend water service disconnections until the government reopens. Bita Dayhoff, president of the Howard County Community Action Council, said her group has received 364 requests this month for help with housing payments, utility bills and other aid not related to food, a 30 percent jump from the same period last year. United Way of Central Maryland received 15 shutdown-related calls to a 211 hot line it uses to help connect people to services, a spokeswoman said. Furloughed federal workers had filed more than 16,000 unemployment insurance applications as of Sunday, more than four times the number typically received from that sector in a year. Federal safety net programs, including Social Security and Medicaid, have stayed open during the shutdown. In Maryland, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children commonly known as WIC has enough money to provide benefits for the rest of the month.