April 5, 2016

One Million Americans Could Lose Food Stamp Benefits this Year

Swiping a card has replaced buying food with actual food stamps, but safety-net programs are still essential. Brian Duss for Bread for the World.

Washington, D.C. – Starting this month, many of the poorest Americans could lose their SNAP (also known as food stamps) benefits as a controversial three-month time limit is reimposed. As many as 1 million recipients will reach the limits for benefits this year.

“Those most affected by this mandate are the poorest of the poor – and this time limit pushes them even deeper into poverty,” said Eric Mitchell, director of government relations at Bread for the World. “As 48 million Americans continue struggling to put food on the table, this is not the time to cut benefits. We should instead be providing job training and other skills that will help people lift themselves out of poverty.”

The federally mandated three-month limit on SNAP benefits affects unemployed adults between the ages of 18 and 49 who are not disabled or raising minor children. In order to continue receiving benefits, they must work at least 20 hours a week. Unfortunately, many people who want to work are unable to find jobs.

The three-month limit was suspended in most states during the Great Recession. Because the economy has improved, it was reinstated in many states at the beginning of the year. Several states in the South are choosing to reimpose the limit even though unemployment remains high and they would continue to qualify for a waiver.   

“Taking away benefits from people who are unable to find work is only going to make a bad situation worse,” added Mitchell. “This is particularly true for people living in areas that continue to suffer from high unemployment. Pushing people even further into poverty will not suddenly help them find nonexistent jobs.”   

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