The national economy is improving, and some states are adjusting their SNAP programs (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps). The re-emerging policy targets unemployed adults without dependents, and adds back in a work requirement. According to some estimates, the adjustments will “strip food stamp benefits from a million, able-bodied adults ages 18 to 49.” Policies linking work and access to SNAP benefits are not new, but a number of states rolled back these requirements during the recession.
Maine is one of those states, and the policy is making national news. Maine’s policy targets Abawds: able-bodied adults without minor dependents. Those who work twenty hours per week, are enrolled in job training courses, or volunteer for at least six hours a week are exempted. Wisconsin is also putting a work requirement back into its SNAP program.
“You’ve got to incentivize employment, create goals and create time limits on these welfare programs,” said Mary Mayhew, the commissioner of health and human services in Maine. She said the measure was in line with [Maine Governor] Mr. LePage’s efforts to reform welfare.
Others disagree with the move, and are concerned about the potential impacts. Food pantry directors are particularly concerned.
“We’re going to run out of food,” said Sherrie Tussler, the executive director of the Hunger Task Force Milwaukee. “It’s going to cause wide-scale hunger here in Milwaukee, and we’re in trouble.”