Friday, Jan. 28, 2022 |
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Y PAUL C. CURTISTGI Staff Writer
With an asset limit of under $2,000, most of the Amfac Sugar Kaua’i workers
losing their jobs today won’t be eligible for food stamps.
That’s the word
from the statewide food stamps administrator with the Benefit, Employment and
Support Services Division of the state Department of Human Services.
also on the experience of the program on the Big Island in the wake of the
closure of Hamakua Sugar, Harry Akamine, food stamps administrator, figures
most Amfac workers probably have too much money in either savings or checking
accounts to qualify for food stamps.
“A lot of them didn’t qualify because
they had too much money in their checking accounts,” Akamine said of the former
Hamakua Sugar workers. “I’m not sure on Kaua’i whether that would hold true or
Many of the workers laid off on the Big Island “had savings accounts,
where they saved all their money that they earned, and (that) basically put
them over our limit,” he said. “Assets are things like checking accounts,
savings accounts. So if they (Amfac Sugar Kaua’i workers) have savings accounts
that already exceed $2,000, then they’re going to be ineligible” for food
On the Big Island, “a lot of those plantation workers did the
thrifty thing, and they did the right thing, which was save your money.
Unfortunately, when the plantation shut down, that put them over our limit.
But, on Kaua’i, I don’t know if that would happen,” Akamine said in response to
inquiries whether there could be an increase in the numbers of individuals and
families qualifying for food stamps because of Amfac’s layoffs.
on Kaua’i, 5,566 people in 2,587 households were receiving food
Compared to California’s 21-page application for food stamps, which
asks questions of applicants which have little or nothing to do with income,
nutrition habits or similar items, Hawaii’s eight-page application is a breeze,
say people familiar with both forms.
That compares to a simple, two-page
federal application for a gun permit, said one official.
A federal study
recently concluded that low-income people who get food stamps eat more, but not
The program increases intake of fat, sugar and meat,
while having little effect on consumption of the foods people need to eat more,
such as fruit, vegetables and grains, the study says.
The study, conducted
by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), also concludes that food-stamp
recipients don’t spend them “on what would best improve their nutrition,” said
Parke Wilde, one of the authors of the study.
By contrast, participants in
a separate government nutrition program targeted to pregnant women and young
children tend to lower their intake of sugar and added fats. That’s because the
Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program strictly limits what beneficiaries
can buy with the assistance. Sugary cereals, including raisin bran, aren’t
allowed purchases under the program.
USDA officials say the report shows
that food-stamp beneficiaries need more information about what they should
But the state supervisor says changing the allowable foods eligible to
be purchased with food stamps would be a long, uphill struggle.
take an act of Congress to tighten up requirements, Akamine said.
Staff Writer Paul C. Curtis can be reached at [
HREF=”mailto:email@example.com”>firstname.lastname@example.org] or 245-3681 (ext.
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