Government encourages food stamps sign ups

(WMC-TV) – The federal government is encouraging people to sign up for food stamps.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is spending up to $3 million on a campaign aimed at getting more citizens to sign up for food stamps. Many people may be eligible and not even know it.

Pam Walton knows how challenging the current economy can be, especially for her 85 year old father.

"My father is a World War II veteran and he's on a fixed income and he makes too much money for food stamps," said Walton.

With millions of Americans already on food stamps, the federal government wants even more people to sign up.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has been running radio ads in several states encouraging those who may be eligible to enroll. The campaign is targeted at the elderly, working poor, and the unemployed.

There are currently more than 46 million people in the food stamps program, also known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

According to the USDA, more than one in four Americans eligible for food stamps do not participate.

But in Mississippi, Director of Economic Assistance Cathy Sykes said the number of applicants is growing.

"We have seen an increase in working families or either people who have been working or are no longer employed," said Sykes.

And with many low-income seniors struggling to afford life's necessities, Walton is hoping only those who desperately need the help, will receive it.

"There will always be people that are getting assistance when they should not be, but we do have a number of checks and balances in place and ways to verify income, ways to verify wages, and different types of income," explained Sykes.

Research shows that another reason people do not participate in the food stamp program is because a lot of them don't understand the requirements of the program.

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