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article imageOne million people in 21 states could lose food stamps

By Karen Graham     Jan 31, 2016 in Politics
Time is running out for more than a million low-income residents in 21 states who could lose their federal food stamp benefits if they fail to meet work requirements that kicked in this month.
Now that January is about over, that leaves two more months of getting help with the grocery bills, and for unemployed adults to find a job or lose food assistance.
The federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, was once known as food stamps and has been tied to employment for the past 20 years. Based on the way the program works, unless an adult is caring for children or is on disability, they need to have a job in order to receive three months of SNAP benefits, according to NPR.com.
After the start of the recession, the three-month cap on eligibility requirements was waived in most areas as state and federal officials agreed that employment was hard to find. But now that the economy seems to be improving, especially with the unemployment rate going down, the federal government and some states have reinstated the three-month cap.
The Associated Press is reporting this is the largest reinstatement of the three-month cap since the recession ended.The AP points out that of the 45 million people receiving food assistance in the U.S., only about five million are considered to be able-bodied adults age 18 through 49 and without children or other dependents.
Concerns being raised over reinstatement of cap
Social service providers, food pantry workers and many of the poor are raising concerns over the return of the three-month cap. Previous experience with many states has shown that most of those affected by the work requirements will not be able to meet them, resulting in having their food stamps cut off.
For many people, "it means less food, less adequate nutrition. And over the span of time, that can certainly have an impact on health - and the health care system," said Dave Krepcho, president and chief executive of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, reports WBIR.com.
The statistics on the almost five million able-bodied people on food stamps is appalling. The AP's analysis on food aid shows there are about 300,000 recipients in Florida, 150,000 in Tennessee and 110,000 in North Carolina that stand to lose their benefits unless they get a waiver, and these three states did not seek any waivers from the federal government.
Many food aid recipients face a number of obstacles when trying to find employment, including criminal records, disabilities, lack of educational requirements or lack of a driver’s license. The bigger problem is people going hungry. Many food bank directors expect to see an increase in the number of people showing up asking for help. It is also possible that some people will just choose to go hungry.
More about food stamp recipients, three month limit, Snap, Improving economy, workforfood
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