New requirement for getting food stamps in McCracken County

More than 17,000 people in Kentucky ages 18 to 50 must now prove they’re spending 20 hours a week working a part-time job, taking classes or volunteering around the community. If not, their food stamp benefits could disappear.

The law, which took affect on Jan. 1, will impact eight Kentucky counties: Fayette, Jefferson, Bullitt, Daviess, Henderson, Hardin, Warren and McCracken.

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services says these counties have the resources available for food stamp users to fulfill the new requirement.

"I come up here to help volunteer for the washrooms and also the laundry," says Maria Jones.

When Jones was down on her luck, she could always count on a hot meal from the Community Kitchen in Paducah, where she now volunteers. More than 250 people come to the kitchen each day, and more than half of them live off food stamps, including Jones.

"I’ve been on food stamps for several years," says Jones.

She thinks the new law in McCracken County is a good idea. So does Jeb Dowell, who’s also on food stamps. He says he doesn’t mind putting in the extra work to help pay for food, but he does see a downside.

"The negatives are the people that just can’t do anything," says Dowell. "Like people who have come off drugs and alcohol."

Dowell knows from experience. He was an alcoholic for 10 years and says if he was on food stamps back then, he wouldn’t have cared about fulfilling the requirements.

"I would have been more worried about being drunk than finding a job," says Dowell.

"It’s only fair that people try to do something back in return and not just live off the food stamps," says Jones.

With so many options in McCracken County, there’s something for everyone.

The new law does not affect those on disability or parents who claim their child as a dependent.

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