CHN: SNAP Rule Could Force 755,000 Off Benefits

The Trump Administration has proposed a rule that would time-limit food benefits for unemployed and underemployed people who can’t document sufficient weekly work hours. Under the rule, these recipients would only be able to receive three months of benefits every three years because states would have far less flexibility to waive the time limits for areas with limited employment opportunities. Anti-hunger advocates estimate the rule would cause 755,000 to lose benefits. The Food Research & Action Center and other advocacy groups are urging members of the public to submit comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in opposition to the rule before the deadline of April 2.

Late last year, Congress passed and President Trump signed a new farm bill that rejected stricter time limits. Anti-hunger advocates protest that the Trump Administration’s proposed rule is an end-run around congressional intent that would cause serious harm to individuals and communities while doing nothing to improve the health and employment status of SNAP recipients.

In 1996, when Congress enacted time limits on SNAP (then called food stamps) for certain adults who were unable to document sufficient hours of work each month, Congress provided that states could request from USDA waivers from the time limits for areas with 10 percent or higher unemployment and for areas with too few jobs. Anti-hunger advocates say the area waivers are important, albeit insufficient, safety valves for protecting food assistance for persons who are seeking but unable to find sufficient hours of work. In the decades since, USDA has abided by the decision of Congress and processed waiver requests from governors of both political parties based on accepted economic factors and metrics.

Senators from both political parties, including Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), are protesting the Administration’s proposal.