HAZEL GREEN, Ky. — As he claimed the first spot in a mile-long line for free food in the Appalachian foothills, Danny Blair vividly recalled receiving the letter announcing that his pandemic-era benefit to help buy groceries was about to be slashed.
Kentucky lawmakers had voted to end the state’s health emergency last spring, by default cutting food stamp benefits created to help vulnerable Americans like Blair weather the worst of covid-19. Instead of $200 a month, he would get just $30.
He crumpled up the letter and threw it on the floor of his camper.
“I thought, ‘Wow, the government is trying to kill us now,’” said Blair, 63, who survives on his Social Security disability check and lives in a mobile home with his wife after their house burned down five years ago. “They are going to starve us out.”
A mile-long line for free food offers a warning as covid benefits end