The Trump administration is tightening work requirements for some food stamp recipients, a change that is expected to eliminate Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits for 688,000 adults.
The new rule makes it more difficult for states to waive a requirement that able-bodied adults without children work at least 20 hours a week or else lose their benefits. The administration says the change is intended to encourage those receiving SNAP to get jobs, but anti-hunger advocates worry it will hurt low-income individuals who can’t find steady work.
“We need to encourage people by giving them a helping hand, but not allowing it to become an infinitely giving hand,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a press release. “Now, in the midst of the strongest economy in a generation, we need everyone who can work, to work.”
The new rule impacts able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 and 49 without dependents. There were nearly 4 million such adults receiving food stamps in 2016, about three-quarters of whom did not work, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Some estimates say the changes could save nearly $5 billion over five years.