Proposed legislation could affect local food pantries
COLUMBIA - The Missouri legislature moved forward on a proposed law that could reduce the length of time people can use welfare benefits.
The senate approved cutting Temporary Assistance Needy Families life-time benefits from 60 to 45 months.
TANF benefits provide temporary financial assistance to families to help pay for daily living expenses like food and utility bills.
Executive Director of the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri, Lindsay Lopez-Young, said the organization finds a way to adjust when policy may affect how it does its work.
The food bank serves about 114,000 people a month, but if the legislation passes, that number could change.
"If people who are receiving federal or state benefits, if those benefits are reduced then I think its fair to say that we will see a spike in the number of people that we're serving," Lopez-Young said.
According to a report published by the Congressional Research Service, about half of the families using TANF benefits have an employed adult and one at least one child.
According to an AP story, supporters of the reduction said it would encourage people to seek employment.
A study done by the Department of Health and Human Services stated Missouri's 14.9 percent work participation rate for TANF families falls below the national average of 29.5 percent.
If passed, the Department of Social Services estimates the state could save about $21 million. This money would be redirected to fund child care assistance to single parent families, education and transportation assistance and job training.
There are about 32,000 people receiving TANF benefits.