The Trump administration has proposed that more Americans work for their food stamps, a plan which would potentially lead to 750,000 people, some extremely poor, losing their benefits.
The administration wants to limit states’ ability to seek waivers from the current employment requirement, thus forcing a great number of people to work to get these stamps. The Agriculture Department forecasts that over three-quarters of a million people could fall off the rolls.
According to researcher Karen Cunnyngham, the administration’s plan would affect the poorest with average monthly income of $557, or 43% of the poverty level. She pointed out that 11% of those had jobs but didn’t work enough to satisfy the proposed requirement.
CNN informs that the food stamp program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, already requires non-disabled, working-age adults without dependents to have jobs. They can receive benefits for three out of 36 months if they don’t work or take part in training programs at least 20 hours a week.
However, current policy allows states with high unemployment rates to waive that time limit. Under the Trump administration’s proposal, the Department of Labor’s definition of areas with insufficient jobs would be tightened and the unemployment rate of that area would have to be minimum 7 percent.
Since December, when the proposal was announced, a number of people have voiced their opposition to it, while experts have stressed that requiring people to work does not necessarily mean they would get employment.
“Those subject to the time limit have profound barriers to employment,” said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, which reports that one-third of their clients have a physical or mental limitation, one in three have no high school education and over 50 percent do not have reliable transportation.
GOP lawmakers dismissed the association’s findings, saying that working helps people escape poverty.
“Work has dignity. Work is opportunity. Work is not a dirty word. Able-bodied adults cannot be kept on the sidelines while we witness historically low unemployment and a record-high seven million open jobs,” said Representative Dusty Johnson of South Dakota.