USDA Finalizes New SNAP Rules, Reducing Food Benefits for Millions

Friday, 06 Dec, 2019

The Trump administration announced Wednesday that it has finalized a plan to tighten punitive work requirements for food stamp recipients, a move that would strip nutrition assistance from an estimated 750,000 low-income people by mid-2020.

In theory, the program has a strict time limit for "ABAWDs", or able-bodied adults without dependents: If they don't meet their work requirement or receive a case-by-case exemption from their state, they may receive food stamps for at most three months in any 36-month period.

According to the USDA, about 36.4 million Americans are now receiving some sort of SNAP benefits, though, program enrollment has declined as the economy has improved, down about 1.7 million people from 2018.

The other two proposed rule changes, not yet final, aim to cap deductions for utility allowance and to limit access to SNAP for working poor families.

Over the past year the Agriculture Department has proposed three significant changes to the food stamp program.

She added that a normal week for the food bank could become even busier if the U.S. Department of Agriculture approves proposed changes to the national food stamp program, the Supplemental Nutrition Program, also known as SNAP. Now there are state-based waivers that allow flexibility for some of the rules for ABAWDs, based on unemployment rates.

The change affects the Able-Bodied Adult Without Dependents rule.

The final rule, which takes effect in April, is the administration's latest initiative to impose work requirements in government assistance programs. Arkansas has the work rule for SNAP eligibility and has asked for none of the waivers for high unemployment that states are now allowed to request.

"We want to encourage people by giving them a helping hand, but not an infinitely giving hand", he said. That work rule has been as confusing and punishing as the Medicaid work rule.

"The fact is what they don't know, because I'm guessing they don't know any food stamps beneficiaries, is that most people who get food stamps in this country already have jobs. Shame on them", Fudge said in a statement.

The claim that workers who desperately need a social welfare safety net, primarily because of the predatory policies pushed by the ruling class, somehow need to be taught about the "dignity of work" is perhaps the most offensive of all the falsifications put forth by the USDA. A study by the Urban Institute estimates these three proposals combined would cut 3.6 million people from SNAP benefits per month, reduce monthly benefits for millions more, and lead to 982,000 students losing access to reduced-cost or free school meals.

But James D. Weill, the president of the Food Research & Action Center, criticized the change.

"The final rule would cause serious harm to individuals, communities, and the nation while doing nothing to improve the health and employment of those impacted by the rule", he said.

An analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities fleshed this out further, noting that the "draconian rule" adversely affects "the poorest of the poor": Americans whose average income "is just 18 percent of the poverty line".