SNAP: Harder to Get, Easier to Lose
Many families served by FT receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. Unfortunately there are misconceptions about recipients of safety-net programs as being unemployed people living on the government’s dime. Approximately 85% of the families we serve are headed by someone who is employed, which matches the national average of SNAP recipients. FT Mentor Advocate Amelia currently is serving 28 cases, 25 cases have jobs and 2 are permanently disabled. Olivia Paschal of The Atlantic points out that the “maximum per-meal value of food stamps is a paltry $1.86—which isn’t enough to cover the cost of an entire meal almost anywhere in the country.”
The current Farm Bill is set to expire on Sept 30, 2018. One of the more contentious parts of the bill are the proposed stricter work requirements on people to receive benefits. Pascal explains the proposed requirements as, "dramatically increases the need to work, requiring almost anyone receiving snap benefits, including people with children above the age of 6 and all “able-bodied” adults under the age of 60, to work or participate in job training for at least 20 hours a week. Failure to do so (or failure to report to work- or job-training hours) just once, and they’d lose benefits for a full year. Two strikes, and the penalty increases to three years of lost benefits unless they comply with the requirements or receive an exemption."
The aim is to cut funding for food stamps by more than $213 billion, or nearly 30%, over the next decade. Currently the Farm Bill has requirements of able-bodied people under the age of 60 have been required by law to work part-time or participate in job-training programs to receive snap benefits since the program was created in 1996. Requirements are even stricter for people under the age of 50 without children or other dependents, who can receive only three months of benefits in a three-year period if they don’t work at least 80 hours a month, and can be disqualified from benefits for up to six months if they don’t meet one of several other more stringent requirements. Hopefully the misconceptions are not driving the proposed changes.