A proposal from the U.S. Department of Agriculture would cause thousands of low-income Americans to lose access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, if approved.
The Agriculture Department revealed on Thursday a plan to enforce more stringent work requirements for “able-bodied adults without dependents” (ABAWD), who apply for SNAP benefits. The recipients targeted by this proposal are ages 18–49, and most live in areas with an unemployment rate 10 percent above the national average.
A report from PBS revealed the average income of the targeted group is $4,000 a year.
The Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 prevents ABAWD’s from receiving food stamps for longer than three months over a three-year period unless they are enrolled in a job program or are currently working. States can grant waivers to SNAP recipients to decrease the ABAWD time limit in areas with a lack of available jobs.
However, the Trump Agriculture Department asserts a majority of able-bodied adults are taking advantage of the waivers, stating that “regulatory standards are out of step with the intent of the law requiring a time limit.”
According to Politico, about 755,000 Americans will have their SNAP benefits taken away if the proposal is approved.
Despite the possible repercussions, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is optimistic. In an op-ed for USA Today, Perdue claimed the proposed rule “promotes work and self-sufficiency in the SNAP program.”
Perdue concluded by stating:
“With these proposed improvements, we will ‘do right’ by the taxpayers and restore the dignity of work to the able-bodied who receive SNAP benefits. And, we will ‘feed everyone’ by ensuring the health and stability of SNAP for those who truly need it.”