CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – For years West Virginians with a felony drug charge have been denied SNAP benefits but state lawmakers are now working to change that.

“Unfortunately a very significant portion of our population has fallen into this problem and it’s important that we try to help those folks get back into productive society,” said Del. John Shott, R-Mercer.

House Bill 2459 passed the house unanimously last week, it is meant to opt West Virginia out of a federal law from the 1990s that bans felony drug convicts from food assistance for life.

“I have a drug problem I should be able to eat at the same time,” said Tracy Jividen

Delegate Shott is sponsoring HB 2459 and says it’s not only a good economic decision, it’s a good humanitarian one.

“It’s really an impediment  especially to people who have gone through recovery programs and really are sincere about trying to get back on track,” said Del. Schott

The bill is meant to help people like Jividen, who was charged with a drug felony in 2009 and therefore shutout of federal food assistance. 

“If it wasn’t for my kids getting food stamps I wouldn’t have ate,” said Jividen. 

Jividen says the lack of access to food led her back down a bad path. Jividen would steal and forge checks just to get something to eat. 

“I couldn’t find my way, I couldn’t make my way. Which you know big long sad story I did exactly what led me out there, to begin with,” said Jividen. 

Jividen no longer needs these benefits, she has made her way through the Recovery Point Program and now has a good job but she knows there are other people who do need them. 

“As simple as this may seem to people who don’t need food stamps… there are people who need this,” said Jividen.