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Health Dept. Provides Relief Following SNAP Program Cuts to Local Residents

The 2009 Recovery Act’s temporary boost to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) administered by the United States Department of Agriculture as part of the Food & Nutrition Service, more commonly known as the food stamp program, ended on Nov. 1, resulting in a benefit cut for every SNAP household.
Locally, for Douglas County residents, this means that a family of three received a cut in their food stamp budget of $29 a month or a total of $319 for the remainder of the fiscal year 2014. This is pretty significant considering the average basic SNAP benefit is fairly low to begin with and the current cuts bring the average per person, per meal benefit to approximately $1.40.
With the never-ending rise in food costs, local families are struggling now more than ever to make the most of the benefits they are receiving from the SNAP program. And while the food stamp program may not be helping these families in need, as much as they once were, other local programs are doing their part to fill in the gaps.
In Douglas County, local families who are in need of additional assistance can find support in a variety of ways just by visiting their local health department.
Currently the Douglas County Health Department provides additional assistance to families in need through the WIC Program, a federally funded nutrition program that helps to provide such assistance as breastfeeding counseling, formula assistance, milk, fresh fruits and vegetables as well as health screenings for pregnant women, women who have recently given birth, as well as infants and children under the age of 5 years old.
A family of three making $695 or less per week with a family member in one of the above categories can participate in the WIC program and receive an average of $38.94 per month in benefits, per qualified family member. This benefit amount exceeds the recent monthly cut made to the SNAP program and can help a struggling family stretch their food dollars.
In addition to the W.I.C. Program, local families can also receive assistance through Newborns in Need by visiting the Douglas County Health Department. Newborns in Need, Inc. Southwest Missouri Chapter, which is a 501 (3)c charity has been providing assistance to families experiencing a financial or medical crisis since 1989.
Families who are struggling and may need additional assistance with obtaining baby essentials such as diapers, wipes, baby wash, infant clothing, or blankets can stop by the Health Department and receive these supplies due to the donations and funds raised by Newborns in Need, Southwest Missouri Chapter.
Donations made through this agency are given to local families who simply express a need. There are no household or income requirements for this program and assistance is provided completely free of charge.
The Douglas County Health Department also offers further assistance with car seats, cribs, free immunizations and additional supplemental formula through local referral to the C.H.A.R.T. Formula program, an assistance program that helps local families obtain emergency formula.
For further information about these programs or the programs mentioned above, local residents can contact the Douglas County Health Department Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at (417) 683-4174 or by visiting the health department at 603 NW 12th Avenue in Ava.

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