According to The New York Times, the Trump administration gave final approval on December 4 to a rule that will remove nearly 700,000 people from the U.S. federal food-stamp program by strictly enforcing federal work requirements. The rule, which was proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in February, would make states enforce work requirements for able-bodied adults without children that governors have routinely been allowed to waive, especially for areas in economic distress.

Under long-standing rules, adults aged 18–49 who are “work eligible” and have no dependents can receive only three months of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits during a three-year period if they do not meet the 20-hour per week work requirement. States with high unemployment rates or a demonstrable lack of sufficient jobs, however, could waive those time limits. With the new rule, a county must have a 6% minimum unemployment rate to receive a waiver.

The change, which takes effect on April 1, 2020, does not apply to children and their parents, those aged 50 and older, including the elderly, those with a disability, or pregnant women.

“Government can be a powerful force for good, but government dependency has never been the American dream. We need to encourage people by giving them a helping hand but not allowing it to become an indefinitely giving hand,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in a press release. “Now, in the midst of the strongest economy in a generation, we need everyone who can work, to work. This rule lays the groundwork for the expectation that able-bodied Americans re-enter the workforce where there are currently more job openings than people to fill them.”

More than 140,000 public comments were submitted on the rule that was finalized, and they were overwhelmingly negative.

“Instead of punishing those facing destitution and other difficult circumstances, the administration should seek to assist them by pursuing policies such as more and better job training and employment programs, a higher minimum wage, and a strengthened Earned Income Tax Credit. Denying them basic food and nutrition is not the route that a fair and compassionate administration of either party should take,” wrote Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a progressive think tank, in a statement.

The New York Times article

Perdue statement

Greenstein statement

In This Article

  1. Food Policy
  2. Food Security

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