Raleigh, N.C. — Less stringent income rules that take effect July 1 will make it easier for North Carolinians to get help with buying food.
Officials said the poor economy prompted the state to take advantage of a federal option to ease income requirements.
The state's federally funded Food and Nutrition Services program now is available to applicants whose gross income is less than 130 percent of the federal poverty level.
It will change to a gross income of less than 200 percent of the poverty level for applications in July.
“A family making around $36,000 to $38,000 a year, a family of four that will be the group that will possibly qualify. Again, it's going to be based on gross income, the number of people in the household. What their rent or mortgage is, and we have a standard for utilities," said Dean Simpson, chief of the state Department of Health and Human Services' Division of Social Services Economic and Family Services Section.
Simpson said unemployment benefits put some people above the current income threshold, but they still needed help buying groceries.
Also starting July 1, the state is launching a pre-assessment Web site with several tools to help families find out if they qualify for food stamps.