Stearns County is Seeing an Increase in Food Assistance Requests
Inflation has many consequences and Stearns County's Human Services Department is seeing those. Michael Pooler is the Human Services Director for Stearns County. He says they are seeing an increased demand for SNAP food benefits. The Federal Poverty Guide determines eligibility and this can be updated every October. Pooler indicates changes were made this summer intended to loosen the requirement for elderly and disabled Americans. He says this caused some confusion among the public who thought these changes applied to everyone. Pooler indicated the poverty guide was raised approximately 200% this summer for elderly and disabled Americans which allowed more people to qualify for the food benefit program.
The poverty guide for all other Americans is expected to change on October 1st. Pooler says because of the confusion they are seeing a large amount of applications. He says inflation is the other factor that has led to an increase in applications from Stearns County residents. Pooler highlighted another option for people to take a look at the website mnbenefits.mn.gov. He says this is an app for mobile and computers. Pooler says the digital application process goes much faster with the estimated time around 10-15 minutes as opposed to 35 to 40 minutes using the paper process. He says the new app could also be leading to more applications this fall.
Pooler says there is a limit to how long a person can receive SNAP food benefits but eligibility determines the length for each individual. He says 36 months is generally the guideline length for eligible people.
Mike Pooler also addresses welfare benefit requirements, unemployment benefits and refugee resettlement. Listen to my conversation with Mike Pooler below.