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USDA changes to SNAP rules both praised and condemned

USDA changes to SNAP rules both praised and condemned

Trump administration policy impacts adults, but may also impact grocers

The Trump administration's decision to change the rules regarding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program are drawing a lot of comments.

What was actually changed?

Long-standing SNAP statute limits able-bodied working adults between the ages of 18 and 49 to three months of benefits in a three-year period – unless they work or participate in work training for at least 20 hours per week. The law allows states to apply for waivers of this time limit due to economic conditions, but prior to the rule change, counties with an unemployment rate as low as 2.5% were included in waived areas. Under USDA’s new rule, states retain their statutory flexibility to waive the time-limit in areas of high unemployment and to exempt a percentage of their ABAWD caseload. Even when working, those who qualify from an income perspective will still receive their SNAP benefits.

Here's some related stories.

Some 688,000 food stamp recipients from across the nation will have to find work by April or risk losing SNAP benefits. Effective April 1, able-bodied recipients age 49 and younger will be limited to three months of food aid over a three-year period unless they are working, in job training or participating in volunteer opportunities at least 80 hours a month. – Cedar Rapids Gazette

“In a time when the economy is strong and the unemployment rate is low, we should be empowering able-bodied, working-age adults - particularly those without children - to contribute to our economy," said Rep. James Comer, R-Kentucky. "This new rule, along with increased support from USDA for workforce training initiatives, will be a key step in that effort.” – Murray Ledger & Times

"The truth is SNAP works. It lifts millions out of poverty in this country and helps millions more make ends meet," said Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio. "The White House, the USDA and congressional Republicans would have us believe this rule simply helps poor people escape the cycle of poverty. SNAP already does that." – The Washington Post

The SNAP rule changes could impact grocery store owners, too, as the benefits are spent at local grocery stores. – New England Public Radio

The rule will limit the ability of states to exempt work-eligible adults from having to obtain steady employment in order to receive benefits through SNAP. According to the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services, of the 810,000 Louisianans who receive SNAP, about 49,000 could be affected by the new rules. – WDSU.com

The Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma said about 800,000 Oklahomans rely on SNAP, but the rule change will have the most impact on rural residents. "The rural communities are using SNAP at a greater rate now than in urban areas, so in communities where employment is much more difficult to find, you're going to see people – especially untrained, unskilled workers – are unemployed longer," said Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma Communications Manager, Greg Raskin. Also, the SNAP dollars are spent in small towns, which could also see impact from less spending. – NewsOn6.com

And here's a sampling of what people are tweeting.

 

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