More Families Eligible For Food Assistance

SPOKANE — Relief is in sight for about 23,000 Washington families struggling to put food on the table as the income limit will increase in October for those eligible for food assistance.

Thousands of people will be able to get food assistance cards starting in October including Amy Melton, a single mother in Spokane with three kids. Melton will become eligible for food assistance coming next month.

“It’s difficult trying to figure out how I’m going to get through this month,” Melton said. “I’ve had a disconnect notice from Avista because I can’t afford to pay my bills.”

Melton’s first priority is food in the mouths of her kids, which means sometimes another bill doesn’t get paid so she can make sure there’s food on the table. She’s been denied food assistance this month and as a result she says it’ll be a miracle if she can scrape together enough for rent and utility fees.

“You get into a hole and its hard to get out,” she said.

But there’s hope for Melton coming up next month.

“I don’t qualify this month but next month they’ve raised the income standards so I will qualify next month,” Melton said.

Right now a family of three has to make under $1,861 dollars to qualify for help paying for food. On October 1st the same size family making $2,934 will qualify for help.

The increased help, local officials with the Department of Social and Health Services say, will be a welcome relief to those who have had to turn people like Amy Melton away.

“Our staff is constantly frustrated because they want to be able to help these people,” Mike Midkiff with DSHS said.

Before these new income requirements the number of people using food stamps increased by almost 1,000 between July 2007 and July 2008.