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Food assistance advocates respond to SNAP changes included in debt ceiling compromise

Food assistance advocates respond to SNAP changes included in debt ceiling compromise
Food assistance advocates respond to SNAP changes included in debt ceiling compromise 02:28

The shelves inside the market at Integrated Family Community Services are stocked now but the demand is high.

"Prior to the pandemic IFCS saw about 600 individuals per month in the pandemic and through now we are seeing about 6,000 individuals per month," Sandra Blythe-Perry said.

Blythe-Perry, executive director of IFCS says the free grocery store is open to anyone in need including those, who lose or have reductions to benefits like the supplemental nutrition assistance program also known as SNAP.

"We are here to provide what we can we source food our shelves are pretty good today we have kind of prepared for the snap reduction we are doing what we can with the donations we bring in," she said.

Now, new changes to that program include adding work requirements for adults ages 50-54. 

Marc Jacobson CEO of Hunger Free Colorado slammed the expansion saying that the population will likely struggle to meet the requirement and instead face losing the assistance.

"Older adults tend to have poorer health conditions and unfortunately face stigma in the workplace so it's harder to find a job when you get older," he said.

The bill also creates work exemptions for the unhoused, for veterans and for some who were in foster care. 

According to the Colorado Department of Human Services, the impacts of the proposed changes are uncertain and released the following statement: 

Colorado has been participating in the Federally allowed time limit suspension for Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents during the public health emergency and as a result, some of our data may need to be updated over the course of the coming six months to better capture other possible exemptions that individuals in these age ranges may qualify for. Colorado has the ability to apply other exemptions we have accrued, and we believe it to be likely that no more than 13,000 SNAP participants will be at risk of losing their SNAP if they are unable to meet any one of the other activities that are allowed and supported to remain enrolled.

Colorado Department of Human Services has provided guidance, encouragement, and training to Counties that administer SNAP to proactively utilize the application of exemptions for unhoused individuals for many years as we have recognized many people experiencing homelessness often meet the definition of being physically or mentally unfit for employment and we applaud this move to more explicitly and uniformly support SNAP participants who are unhoused. CDHS also supports the proposal of extending exemptions for veterans and young people aging out of foster care.

Once we receive official guidance from the USDA, our federal partners, we will have a better sense of the timeline for implementing these changes.

For those worried about where they'll stand when the changes are implemented. Blythe-perry says they'll be there.

"Anyone who is in need we are going to be here to help," she said.

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