Cuts to food stamp benefits in Arkansas are set to take effect at the end of March. A work requirement will be added to all recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, leaving roughly 12,000 residents of the state without benefits.
Arkansas will notify 12,000 people they are expected to stop SNAP benefits on April 1, reports the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
The cuts to benefits will only affect childless, able-bodied adults aged 18-49. Recipients in that demographic will be able to receive SNAP benefits for three months before being required to find a job, sign up for job training program, or be enrolled in school, reports KTBS.
During the 2008 recession that left many across the country without a job, the work requirements to receive SNAP benefits were temporarily suspended. Now, the federal government is bringing the requirements back.
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The re-institution of SNAP requisites in Arkansas is part of a larger trend of stricter regulation of food stamp benefits across the nation. The renewed requirements will affect 45 million people receiving SNAP benefits in the U.S., reports the Los Angeles Times.
The work requirement to receive benefits will only apply to roughly 5 million people who are considered able-bodied and childless.
Many advocates for benefits recipients say that the condition of SNAP recipients make it more difficult for them to meet the work requirement. Many who rely on food stamps are homeless, veterans experiencing trauma, or victims of abuse that do not have much access to the job market.
Republican Gov. Paul LePage of Maine was rebuked for his state’s re-introduction of the work requirement for childless adults by U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Vilsack said Maine was not doing enough to help SNAP recipients find work, reports Portland Press Herald.
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“I think he’s looking for a shortcut, he’s looking for a way of making it easy on the state. I’m happy when we reduce the rolls the right way: I’m happy when someone gets a job,” said Vilsack.
Only seven U.S. states currently waive the work requirements for SNAP benefits.