Students are finding it harder to fill their pantries and stomachs with nutritious food choices due to the increasing cost of food and legislation that has affected the amount of financial aid they are able to receive.
According to a Commodity Research Bureau study completed at the request of the U.S. Treasury Department, the price of food increased 19 percent in the United States in 2014.
Resources are available for those in need, but students may not be aware that they qualify for assistance or know how to apply.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a part of the Department of Human Services in Oklahoma. It provides a card that can be used to purchase grocery items from stores in the area.
“Everyone has the right to apply for services within the Department of Human Services,” said Social Service Supervisor Stephanie Charlson.
“That can include Medicaid, food stamps and child care services, and those services can be applied for here in Grady County,” Charlson added.
Financial Aid is not considered income and many students may qualify for the maximum benefit of $189 each month in food. If financial aid is the only income, benefits may be dispersed within one to seven business days.
Able-bodied students must be employed 20 hours per week or meet any other exception. Work study hours can help meet this requirement.
Those who are disabled, over the age of 50, or under the age of 17 are exempt. There are other exemptions as well, pertaining to parents of small children and women who are pregnant.
Asking for help is nothing that a student should be embarrassed to do. In fact, you might be surprised to find that many of your classmates are already taking advantage of this resource.
For emergency help, students may visit the First Baptist Church at 324 W. Colorado Ave. in Chickasha any Thursday between 2-4 p.m. to apply for assistance from the church’s pantry. Call 405-224-5196 for more information.
The Southern Oaks Church of Christ at 112 S. 5th in Chickasha will accept applications for help on Thursday between 9 a.m. and noon. Call 405-224-1821.
The Salvation Army located at 227 N. 4th St. in Chickasha also helps. Services are available Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The phone number is 405-224-5647.
Always call ahead to make certain the pantries will be open and to ask what information you need to bring with you.
More information about the SNAP program can be found at this link: http://www.okdhs.org/programsandservices/snap/docs/faq.htm
Signups for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) began July 8. This program provides assistance for low income families or individuals to pay their heating and cooling bills.
Students who are interested in applying will need to bring proof of income, their photo ID and a copy of their electric bill.
Charlson advises students to come in and apply because they may qualify for something that they weren’t aware existed.
“Tell everyone that you know,” said Charlson. “The worst thing that could happen is that students apply and don’t qualify, but they may still be eligible for help in another area.”
The Grady County office is located at 1707 Frisco Ave. in Chickasha. Phone 405-574-7400 for information or directions.