With one rule change this week, the Trump administration put hundreds of thousands of people at risk of hunger.
The new rule, finalized on Dec. 4, will tighten work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps).
Currently, after three months in the program, able-bodied adults with no dependents are required to work 20 hours a week to receive SNAP benefits. In times of increased hardship, states have been able to waive this time limit to ensure access to food assistance. No longer—starting on April 1, 2020, such waivers will only be granted if the county in question has an employment rate of at least six percent.
This single change will take away SNAP benefits from 688,000 people. For people struggling with poverty and unemployment, taking away access to SNAP will only make life more difficult.
USDA officials have argued that this change will incentivize SNAP recipients to secure work. But studies have found that the opposite is true– mandatory work requirements fail to bring about increased employment or earnings.
Congress has already stated their disapproval. The administration initially tried to advance this change in the 2018 Farm Bill, but members rejected it. This past March, a bipartisan group of 47 senators decried the proposed rule in a statement. Instead of listening, the administration has decided to circumvent the legislative branch entirely.
Taking food off tables. Punishing those who need assistance the most. Ignoring the will of our elected representatives. None of this is acceptable. Our leaders must be better.
FCNL believes that the government has a moral duty to help society’s most vulnerable people. This rule change fails to live up to that responsibility.