food stamps

Inside A Judge's Rehab: Unpaid Work At An Oklahoma Coca-Cola Plant

Dec 4, 2017
Shane Bevel / Reveal

Retired Oklahoma Judge Thomas Landrith is hailed as a hero of criminal justice reform.

He started the first rural drug court in the nation and has reaped awards for sending defendants to treatment rather than prison. Most judges in the state model their drug courts after his.

But Landrith also is involved in a more sinister byproduct of criminal justice reform.

Groups that help low-income families get food assistance are alarmed by a recent drop in the number of immigrants seeking help. Some families are even canceling their food stamps and other government benefits, for fear that receiving them will affect their immigration status or lead to deportation. Many of the concerns appear to be unfounded but have been fueled by the Trump administration's tough stance on immigration.

Despite working as a home health aide in New Mexico for nearly two decades, Kimberly Jones was struggling to get the hours she needed to make ends meet. She was living in a hotel room, and every day she had to make a choice.

"Do I eat or do I pay for the room? Or how can I squeeze them both? Because, you know, the hotel wants their money," Jones says. "They don't care if you eat or not."

Jones applied for food stamps. She says the state worker she met with told her she was eligible for expedited assistance, and she'd get her benefits within a week.

Nearly one-third of households on SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, still have to visit a food pantry to keep themselves fed, according to data highlighted this week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Several leaders and members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering.

One month down, two to go.

For unemployed adults in 22 states, that's how long they can count on help with the grocery bills: Starting this January, they have three months to find a job or lose their food assistance.

SNAP benefits — formerly known as food stamps — have been tied to employment for two decades. Unless they are caring for children or unable to work, adults need to have a job to receive more than three months of benefits.

The federal government is about to put $100 million behind a simple idea: doubling the value of SNAP benefits — what used to be called food stamps — when people use them to buy local fruits and vegetables.

This idea did not start on Capitol Hill. It began as a local innovation at a few farmers' markets. But it proved remarkably popular and spread across the country.

"It's so simple, but it has such profound effects both for SNAP recipients and for local farmers," says Mike Appell, a vegetable farmer who sells his produce at a market in Tulsa, Okla.