Some Mississippi food pantries are providing help to more adults without children, who say they don't qualify for food stamps.
Stephanie Echols is with Stewpot Community Services in Jackson. She says she's seen an increase in single able-bodied adults without children seeking assistance from their food pantry.
"No employment, that's what a lot of them do come say. There's no job, no jobs," said Echols.
SNAP or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides foods stamps for 3 months within a 36 month period. In the past, Mississippi received a waiver to extend benefits year round due to the state's rate of poverty and unemployment. But Governor Phil Bryant didn't request the waiver last year. Instead new guidelines require childless adults between the ages of 18 and 49 work at least 20 hours per week, look for work, be in a training program or do community service to receive food stamps. Beth Orlansky, advocacy director with Mississippi Center for Justice, is studying the impact of the changes.
"We would be very happy if the state provided training for people to be able to get jobs that would pay. We are very much in favor of people being employed but the opportunities are just not there," said Orlansky.
Forest Thigpen with the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, says the rules are working in other states.
"In other states where this has been done. The people who have gotten off the food stamps or the SNAP program have actually done well economically. It has encouraged them to seek jobs and actually found jobs," said Thigpen.
The average benefit is $194 per month. Beth Orlansky estimates at least 60,000 single childless Mississippians have been removed from the food stamp rolls.