Higher income limits allow more to get food stamps

Posted July 1, 2010 1:22 p.m. EDT
Updated July 1, 2010 3:30 p.m. EDT

— The state's federally funded Food and Nutrition Services program, commonly called food stamps, is now open to more North Carolina families.

Less stringent income rules – offering assistance to families with gross income less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level – took effect on Thursday.

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 

“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.