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Changes kick 50,000 Hoosiers off federal food stamp program

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Aug. 25, 2015) - Almost 50,000 Hoosiers are working to find a job, after losing their qualification for food stamps. It is no longer legal in Indiana for able-bodied adults without children to use food stamps if they’re unemployed.

After the recession in 2008, Indiana opted to remove the requirement that forced food stamp recipients to work; a federal requirement put into place in 1996 by the passage of The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act.

Lawmakers have decided the economy is back to a spot where if you’re using food stamps, and you’re able, you should have a job.

The impact is being felt far beyond just those that use the federal program.

“Anytime there’s a change to a government program, it does impact all of us,” said John Whitaker, the Executive Director of the Midwest Food Bank.

“Currently one out of six Hoosiers uses a food bank or a pantry. That will certainly, probably go up,” he said.

At the Midwest Food Bank, millions of Hoosiers are fed every year, across the 58 counties it serves.

Whitaker is anticipating an influx of people no longer on food stamps to use food pantries across the state. He’s asking now for help from the community to feed thousands more mouths.

“We distribute food in over 58 counties and currently we’re feeding 80-90,000 individuals each month so a small increase in that is certainly absorbed by what we need to do, but we could always use more help,” he said.

“These are folks that should be out in the workforce that should be looking for work,” said State Senator Jim Merritt (R – Indianapolis).

State republicans welcome the change.

Since, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more Americans than ever before have been flooding the federal food stamp program, but now that the economy is on the rebound that work requirement has returned.

“These are able-bodied people who don’t have dependents and we need to make sure that we encourage them to look for work, find education, and monitor them,” said Merritt.

The work requirement went into effect in July. There is a three-month grace period for those impacted to find a job. As a result, food stamp recipients have until October to find a job before they’re kicked off the federal program.