Under a new rule enacted by the Trump administration, close to 700,000 people will lose SNAP benefits due to regulations that make it more difficult for states to waive the requirement that “able bodied” recipients work at least 20 hours a week.

The rule will affect people aged 18-49 who do not have children and are not disabled. Currently, USDA rules require that they work 20 hours a week, but states have been able to waive these requirements for benefit recipients in areas with high unemployment. Under the rule change, states will have a more difficult time receiving waivers.

“The policy targets very poor people struggling to work — some of whom are homeless or living with health conditions,” remarked Stacy Dean, a food assistance policy vice president at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “Taking away basic food assistance from these individuals will only increase hardship and hunger, while doing nothing to help them find steady full-time work.”

The rule is slated to go into effect in April of 2020. A study by Mathematica Policy Research and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that the waivers significantly help those living in extreme poverty. Ninety-seven percent of SNAP recipients who this rule change will affect live in poverty, and 88 percent have household incomes of less than $600 a month.

“The final rule would cause serious harm to individuals, communities, and the nation while doing nothing to improve the health and employment of those impacted by the rule,” said James D. Weil, president of the Food Research & Action Center. “In addition, the rule would harm the economy, grocery retailers, agricultural producers, and communities by reducing the amount of SNAP dollars available to spur local economic activity.”

Sources: NPR 14/4/19; NBC News 12/4/19; USDA.gov

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