Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, today warned that many food banks across the country will struggle to meet a significant increase in the need for emergency food assistance as between 500,000 and 1 million Americans are cut from the Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, commonly known as food stamps) due to the return in many states of a harsh three-month time limit on SNAP benefits for certain SNAP recipients.
“This is the equivalent of approximately $75-150 million in lost SNAP benefits per month on average, which equates to between 27 and 54 million meals per month that SNAP recipients will lose,” said Diana Aviv, CEO of Feeding America. “These totally unnecessary cuts would increase demand on the nation's charitable food system at a time when food banks and other hunger-relief groups are stretched to meet sustained high need.”
These cuts will affect unemployed adults aged 18-49 who are not disabled or raising minor children, also known as “Able Bodied Adults Without Dependents” (ABWDS). ABWDS are limited to three months of SNAP benefits in any 36-month period unless they are employed or participating in a training program for at least 20 hours a week. Even SNAP beneficiaries who are diligently looking for work and whose state does not offer them a slot in a work or training program are faced with losing their benefits.
This year 22 states chose to, or were required to, re-impose time limits in all or part of the state for the first time since 2008.
States are not required to offer SNAP recipients a place in a work or training program and only five states have pledged to offer a qualifying work slot to every individual subject to the three month time limit. Those impacted by the time limit face significant barriers to finding work or enrolling in training programs – 25 percent do not have a high school degree, 33 percent face physical and mental limitations, and 38 percent were formerly incarcerated. They are also among the poorest SNAP recipients with an average income of about $2,000 per year.
“We are deeply concerned about the impact on some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in our communities. SNAP is often the only program providing benefits to unemployed adults without dependent children, and the loss of benefits will be catastrophic for those affected. The notion that we can readily make up for this unnecessary loss is just not realistic” Aviv said.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps millions of low-income Americans put food on the table, providing benefits that are timely, targeted and temporary. SNAP responds quickly to changes in need, growing in response to increases in poverty and unemployment and shrinking as need abates. The nutrition assistance program is targeted at our most vulnerable citizens, predominantly serving households with children, elderly and disabled members.
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