TRENTON, N.C. (WNCT) – The number of people receiving food assistance through the SNAP program has spiked in eastern North Carolina following Hurricane Matthew.
In Jones County, 20 percent of the county’s population is receiving food assistance, according to October 2016 numbers. Tied into those numbers are replacements and supplements counties received after Hurricane Matthew.
The county paid out over $600,000 dollars in electronic transfer benefits in October, an increase of 160 percent from the past several months.
Social services officials said the increase is mainly due to Hurricane Matthew and the rural nature of Jones County.
“We went over 1,500 cases for the month between October and November, and I would say Hurricane Matthew was the most significant reason,” said Nelson Craft, Jones County Social Services.
According to the USDA, more than 17 percent of households in North Carolina receive SNAP benefits for food.
Other counties with increased rates in the east include Lenoir, Bertie and Washington.
Jones County Social Services said they expect the number of residents receiving assistance to drop in the next few months as Matthew recovery continues.
The county averages around 1,100 to 1,200 cases per month.
In Jones County, nearly 400 replacements were issued for program participants active in September.