Eye On Boise

Grocers petition governor to stagger monthly food stamp distributions

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: NAMPA, Idaho (AP) ― A petition supported by Idaho grocers seeks to stagger the distribution of food stamp benefits. Grocers have complained to state lawmakers that they've been swamped by food-stamp recipients on the first day of every month. However, legislation allowing state officials to stagger the distribution of these federal benefits stalled in the Idaho Legislature earlier this year. A petition now circulating with support from grocers and the group, Idaho Interfaith Roundtable Against Hunger, calls on Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter for a fix. State officials estimate 234,000 Idahoans are now receiving food stamps. Grocers told lawmakers earlier this year that the long lines, sometimes in the wee morning hours, have caused some people to abandon their carts in the aisles, forcing $1 million in food to go to waste. Click below for the full AP report.

Petition seeks to stagger food stamp distribution

NAMPA, Idaho (AP) — A petition supported by Idaho grocers seeks to stagger the distribution of food stamp benefits.

Grocers complained to state lawmakers earlier this year, saying that they've been swamped by food-stamp recipients on the first day of every month. They said the long lines, sometimes in the wee morning hours, have caused some people to abandon their carts in the aisles, forcing $1 million in food to go to waste.

However, legislation allowing state officials to stagger the distribution of these federal benefits stalled in the Idaho Legislature earlier this year. The bill passed the Idaho House with a 55-12 vote in March, but didn't get a hearing in the Senate.

Among supporters of the measure was the Northwest Grocers Association and WinCo Foods. They offered to chip in $100,000 to help defray the ongoing cost of $220,000 for Department of Health and Welfare staff to respond to any recipient confusion over the proposed change.

While that effort stalled in the Legislature, a petition now circulating with support from grocers calls on Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter for a fix.

A coalition of volunteers with the group, Idaho Interfaith Roundtable Against Hunger, and other community organizations stationed themselves at grocery stores in southwestern Idaho over the weekend and collected signatures.

Rita McDowell, a volunteer with the coalition Food Fix Idaho, was among those gathering signatures on the petition that aims to change the current system so that food stamp benefits are staggered throughout the month.

"The lines are way too long," McDowell said.

More than 230,000 Idahoans currently receive food stamps, according to the Department of Health and Welfare. The coalition argues that Idaho is one of a handful of states where recipients receive their benefits at the same time, on the same day each month.

"We're getting a lot of feedback from people who are frustrated with shopping on the first (day of the month)," said McDowell. "They try to avoid the first."


Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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