One in four food stamp recipients will see fewer dollars

Federal government changes utility deduction

About 50,000 Iowa families will have less help paying for groceries come Nov. 1, after the federal government changed how they calculate the food assistance program, or food stamps.

Calculating someone's eligibility for food assistance takes into consideration many factors: income, medical expenses, utility costs and other amounts. For the first time in many years, the federal government opted to change that utility deduction. So for many people, that means they'll get about $35 less a month, starting in November.

"They just don't realize what the working people are going through with the people who are working low hours, and can't make it as it is. They have to get the food stamps, said food assistance recipient Gordon Swearingen.

Those affected received what the Iowa Department of Human Services calls a "decision letter." The letter explains that utility deduction change. It also says how much recipients will receive each month, compared to their current allowance.The change will not affect people who are on the lower end of the eligibility requirements, officials said. It will also not affect people who don't pay utilities at all.

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