Adding to the pressure of the job search, many unemployed Floridians risk losing an important safety net if they can’t find a job, enroll in school, or enter a job-training program.
Florida is one of several states to reinstate time limits on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP benefits.
With the change, which took effect at the beginning of the year, able-bodied adults with no dependents are limited to three months of food assistance during any 36-month period.
Paco Velez, president and CEO of Feeding South Florida, says without access to regular, healthy meals, a costly cycle ensues.
“It starts leading into health issues and mental capacity issues, and then, they’ll end up giving you restrictions, and you end up with either low-paying jobs or not able to find a job,” says Velez.
Florida was one of many states that suspended the rules at the height of the Great Recession.
But the SNAP time limits were reinstated at the beginning of the year, so the full effect will begin to hit in April.
However, Velez says the impact is already being felt at food banks across the state. He adds his organization is working with its network of food banks and pantries to help get the word out, and to encourage those who can to open their hearts and cupboards to help out.