Effective Nov. 1, people across North Carolina who receive Food & Nutrition Services, also known as food stamps, will see a reduction in their benefits.
This change is federally mandated, and is the result of the expiration of funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which provided a temporary increase of benefits beginning in 2009.
Gaston HHS workers have not yet been told how the end of this funding will affect individual clients, but the state of North Carolina has said the average decrease for FNS recipients will be 5.4 percent.
For an average household of four, that would be an estimated decrease of $36 a month.
"We sympathize with our clients," said HHS Director Chris Dobbins. "We realize that people with limited incomes face great challenges in providing for their families."
More than 21,000 households in Gaston County receive Food & Nutrition Services.
The state indicated there is no appeals process for this decrease, as it is the result of a change in federal law, not eligibility criteria.
Clients who receive FNS benefits can check their EBT card balance by calling the toll-free number on the back of the card. While specific client information has not yet been provided to Gaston HHS staff, clients who have concerns are encouraged to contact their FNS caseworkers.