The Trump administration Wednesday formalized work requirements for recipients of food stamps, a move that will cause hundreds of thousands of people to lose access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Brandon Lipps, the deputy undersecretary for the USDA’s Food Nutrition and Consumer Services, spent about 18 minutes on a call with reporters outlining the changes to the rule that will take effect April 1.
“We’re taking action to reform our SNAP program in order to restore the dignity of work to a sizable segment of our population and be respectful of the taxpayers who fund the program,” Perdue said. “Americans are generous people who believe it is their responsibility to help their fellow citizens when they encounter a difficult stretch. That’s the commitment behind SNAP, but, like other welfare programs, it was never intended to be a way of life.”
The USDA rule change affects people between the ages of 18 and 49 who are childless and not disabled. Under current rules, this group is required to work at least 20 hours a week for more than three months over a 36-month period to qualify for food stamps, but states have been able to create waivers for areas that face high unemployment.
The new rule would limit states from waiving those standards, instead restricting their use to those areas that have a 6 percent unemployment rate or higher. The national unemployment rate in October was 3.6 percent.
During the call Wednesday, the USDA said that about 688,000 people would lose access to food stamps. That’s down from its earlier estimate that 750,000 people would be affected.
The USDA said that this was an extension of President Donald Trump’s April 2018 executive order, called “Reducing Poverty in America by Promoting Opportunity and Economic Mobility,” that aimed to create more work programs and limit public assistance.