Help is something that many people are looking for these days with the weak economy and not know when it will start looking up again. Fortunately, there are some places people can go to if they are facing hard times.
Dwight Sharp with the Arkansas Department of Human Services office in Salem listed off several programs designed to help those in need. He said food stamp benefit cards are available through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Sharp said these benefit cards are available to residents in Fulton County who qualify based on income and resources.
The Salem Church of Christ also has a food room where people who can't afford food for their families can go for their needs. The food room is open on Thursdays from 10 a.m to 1 p.m. They offer food as well as clothing to those in need.
Eligibility for food from the church is based on income, for example a one person home's income cannot exceed $1,120 per month to be eligible. The clothing is available to anyone who is in need, there are no requirements.
The food room offers meats, canned goods and other staples that vary form month to month. The government does provide part of the food for the church to give away and the church provides the rest through donations.
Another program that helps with food needs is the Angel Food program, which is available to anyone no matter what their income is. Those who need a box of food can order it through Baker's Pharmacy, and it will be delivered whenever the next pick up date is.
Doctors' visits and medications can be expensive, especially for those who don't have health insurance. Sharp said there is a program to meet this need, as well. Though many people think of Medicaid being just for the elderly, it is also for low income families. Sharp said the Medicaid program for children will be expanding its income limits in July, which will make more children eligible for Medicaid.
"There are lots of children eligible for Medicaid than are receiving," Sharp said.
He said adult Medicaid is mostly for the elderly, but there are times when young adults can enter the program, such as and instance when there are children involved.
There is also a special program in Medicaid that can help parents who have severely disabled children whose medications are expensive, Sharp said. The program also helps women with brest cancer, people with tuberculosis and pregnant women with pre-natal care.
As for clothing, people can go to thrift stores, the Salvation Army or second hand stores for cheap clothes. "Used clothing is getting to be popular," Sharp said.
He said there are now more people applying for aid through DHS. "I think we've been increasing (with applications) gradually within the last few months," Sharp said.