Drop in unemployment leads to food stamp cuts

The change affects people in Washington and Multnomah counties

The state of Oregon uses reloadable debit-like cards known as "Oregon Trail" cards instead of food stamps. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — On Friday, more than 6,000 Oregon residents will lose their food stamps, also known as EBT benefits, due to dropping unemployment rates.

When unemployment rates are down, a rule under the 1996 Welfare Reform Law allows certain people only 3 months worth of food stamps every 3 years. These people are able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 and 49 who don’t have dependents and work less than 20 hours a week.

It was implemented January 1, which means 3 months of benefits expires March 31.

The state waived the rules for years because of rising unemployment rates. But now that unemployment is down again, the benefits are being trimmed.

Oregon is one of 40 states where this caveat is being implemented.

That has Jeff Kleen with the Oregon Food Bank worried about supply not meeting demand.

“We’re already distributing over 86 million pounds of food a year and are feeling stretched thin,” says Kleen. “Certainly the Oregon Food Bank network will do everything we can to make up that gap but we simply can not, it’s too great for our system.”

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