CHARLESTON — House Bill 2459, which lifts the federal ban on people with drug felony convictions from receiving food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (otherwise known as SNAP or food stamps), went into effect May 21.

Now people who were previously ineligible for SNAP due to a drug felony conviction will be able to apply for SNAP through the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR). People whose drug felony crime resulted in a person’s injury or death, or that involved the fraudulent use of SNAP, will still be ineligible.

The exact number of people who will now be eligible to apply for SNAP under the new law is difficult to pin down. However, according to DHHR, in 2016 alone over 2,100 people applied for and were denied SNAP due to the ban. This number does not account for people who never tried to apply because they were aware they were ineligible due to their conviction or those who were denied in other years.

Lida Shepherd with the American Friends Service Committee said, “This new policy going into effect is a big deal for thousands of people in our state, especially for those in recovery and who have just been released from prison, who are trying hard to put the pieces of their life back together. Food security for these individuals is vital to their success reintegrating back into their community.”

People may apply in person at their county DHHR office, call DHHR to request an application by mail, or apply online at

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