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Community Farm Alliance Releases Letter Against Yum Brands Food Stamp Proposal

The Community Farm Alliance has released a letter outlining the organization’s opposition to Louisville-based Yum Brands’ proposal to allow certain food stamps recipients to use their vouchers at fast food restaurants.

Yum is asking Governor Steve Beshear to make the exception for disabled, elderly and homeless recipients. The CFA already took a stand against the change, but on Monday, the group’s vice president Cassia Herron released a letter encouraging Kentuckians to contact Beshear about the issue.

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Health Department Chief Uneasy About Food Stamp Proposal

The acting director of Louisville’s health department says he concerned that allowing certain food stamp recipients to use the vouchers at fast food restaurants could send a mixed message about nutrition.

Louisville-based Yum! Brands has been lobbying the Beshear administration to authorize food stamp use at restaurants by the disabled, elderly and homeless.

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Food Stamps, Medicaid Affected by New Bill

Kentucky officials are analyzing the potential impact of the new education, jobs and Medicaid bill signed this week by President Barack Obama. Part of the measure is designed to help states pay for Medicaid, the low income health care program.  To help meet Medicaid costs, Congress will reduce federal food stamp funding more quickly than anticipated, says Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services spokeswoman Vikki Franklin.

“That’s returning payments to pre-stimulus rates in 2014.  At this point, we’ve not yet seen estimates of the impact on states of the reduced funding for food stamps.  But we are hopeful that Congress will address the issue before 2014 and that the recovery will decrease the anticipated need by then,” said Franklin.

In the past two years, the number of Kentucky households receiving food stamps has increased by more than 70,000 to nearly 360,000 households statewide.

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Record Numbers Sign Up for Food Stamps

Kentucky is issuing record numbers of food stamps to households.   State food assistance spokesperson Mark Cornett says Kentucky continues to take on a large number of new recipients.

“Kentucky would go up about 1500 cases on average per month. I mean, a big month for us was about 2500 households in a single month.  Our average now has been over 5500 cases, caseload gross, per month,” says Cornett.

A report this week from the USDA shows that Kentucky is doing better than most states at reaching people who are eligible for food stamps.  The agency’s most recent figures estimate that number at more than 700,000 for 2007.

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Food Stamp Rolls Swell; Largest Single-Year Increase

More than 300,000 Kentucky households are now receiving food stamp assistance.  Between June 2008 and June of this year, more than 38,000 new families signed up.  Kentucky Department for Community Based Services spokesman Mark Cornett says that’s the single largest increase in the program’s history here.

“It’s mostly working families, who either one or both parents were employed, and one or both parents have lost their jobs and they’ve never walked into our offices before,” Cornett said.

Cornett says caseworkers are working over time to process applications. He says a recent influx of nearly three million in federal stimulus dollars will help the department streamline and modernize its operations.

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Food Banks Planned Through Friday

Louisville Food BankMobile food banks are planned for the rest of the week to help feed families who lost food in this week’s power outages.

The food banks are sponsored by the Community Action Partnership and Dare to Care. They’ll serve anyone who has had food ruined by fires, power outages or floods caused by Sunday’s storm.

On Wednesday, more than 700 people visited a food bank in West Louisville, and Thursday’s bank will be in Shively. Louisville Food Bank

“One of the reasons why we picked the areas we did,” says CAP executive director Mary Elizabeth Miles, “It was based on how many persons were without power. So we’ll keep doing it until there isn’t a need anymore.”

Miles says there will definitely be a food bank set up on Friday, but a location has not yet been chosen. More may be planned based on how soon power is restored

The state is also issuing refunds for food stamps that were spent on food that has been ruined.

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KY To Refund Food Stamps Spent On Ruined Food

Mayor Jerry Abramson Kentucky government officials say the state will refund food stamps that were spent on items ruined following Sunday’s windstorm.

If food stamp recipients in Kentucky have spent their September allotment on food that was later spoiled in blackouts or destroyed in floods or fires, they can get the stamps replaced.

Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson says any distribution office can refund the stamps.

“You explain that to them and within 24 hours, your card is in fact upgraded and you receive the additional moneys giving you the capability to go the grocery and to reuse those coupons,” says Abramson.

The city will also set up a mobile food bank Wednesday at the corner of 14th Street and Broadway.