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Food stamp benefits increase in October

Oregon’s nearly 203,000 food-stamp households will receive small increases in October in the amount of their benefit and in how much they can earn to qualify.

The changes, affecting more than 406,000 people, were effective Wednesday.

Households with incomes below 185 percent of the federal poverty level ($2,837 a month for a family of four) may qualify for benefits, which are based on household income, size and expenses.

For an individual, the monthly food-stamp benefit will increase by $2, from $139 to $141, if the individual has no other income or expenses. The individual also can earn up to $973 in gross income, compared with $960 before Oct. 1.

For a family of four, the food-stamp benefit increases by $6, from $465 a month to $471, if they have no other income or expenses. Gross monthly family income to qualify for food stamps rises from $1,961 or less to $1,994.

The federal government revises food-stamp payments annually to reflect changes in food, housing and other costs. Recipients are people who are low income, elderly or disabled.

The average amount of food stamps received by an Oregon household is about $161.

Meanwhile, immigrant children under age 18 with valid immigration status now meet the citizenship requirement to receive food stamps, affecting at least 1,000 Oregon households.

As a result, an immigrant child may be able to receive food stamps regardless of when he or she immigrated and even if adults in the family are not eligible.

This change is part of the federal farm bill that President Bush signed into law in May.

The federally financed food-stamp program, intended to ensure access to a nutritious diet, is administered in Oregon by the state Department of Human Services.

The federal government finances benefits, and shares administrative expenses with the states.

Since 1998, Oregon food-stamp benefits have been delivered electronically and recipients are able to obtain funds using a credit card-like Oregon Trail card.

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