The Bush administration has denied requests from Maine, New York, Kansas, Virginia and South Carolina, to increase food stamps for low-income families facing higher heating bills this winter.
The increases would have ranged from $8 to about $30 a month for families who pay their own utility bills.
State officials and advocates for the poor said the decision will make it hard for needy families to afford both heat and food. The Energy Department has forecast 25% average increases in heating bills this winter. Research shows that when utility bills rise, some poor families reduce food purchases.