Lillie Gonzales does whatever it takes to provide for three ravenous sons who live under her roof. She grows her own vegetables at home on Kauai, runs her own small business and like a record 42 million other Americans, she relies on food stamps.
Gonzales and her husband consistently qualify for food stamps now that Hawaii and other states are quietly expanding eligibility and offering the benefit to more working, moderate income families.
Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture reviewed by The Associated Press shows that 30 states have adopted rules making it easier to qualify for food stamps since 2007. In all, 38 states have loosened eligibility standards.
Hawaii has gone farther than most, allowing a family like Gonzales' to earn up to $59,328 and still get food stamps.
Prior to an Oct. 1 increase, the income eligibility limit for a Hawaii family of five was $38,568 a year.