Politics

New Mexico Considering Extra Requirements For Food Stamps

| by Maura Turcotte

If you’re looking to get food stamps in New Mexico, you may have to quite literally work for them soon.

The state government under Republican Gov. Susana Martinez is considering mandating extra requirements for those seeking Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

The state is proposing that SNAP members between the ages of 16 and 60, with children older than 6, complete 80 hours of community service per month, KOAT reported. Pregnancy and disability would exempt recipients from the activities. 

Currently, there are only a few requirements for the SNAP program in New Mexico. Adults between the ages of 18 and 50 must be either employed or actively searching for work to receive food stamps.

This past year saw a 21 percent increase in enrollment cases for the SNAP program in New Mexico, The Washington Times reported.

With over 20 percent of the population now using food stamps, Martinez’s administration believes that these new stipulations will benefit recipients, giving them skills that could be utilized elsewhere.

However, the proposal is already drawing criticism.

"Ultimately it's going to be the family that is going to have less Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits if the adult is not able to comply," Louise Pocock of the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty said to KOAT. 

“We don’t think that that’s a great idea considering we’re a state with the highest hunger and poverty [rates in the nation],” she told The Washington Times.

Even the Catholic bishops in New Mexico have come out to express their concern about the effects of these new requirements. 

“This is a burdensome rule [that] will take food off the table of poor people,” Allen West, executive director for the New Mexico Conference of Bishops, said to KOAT.

If the proposal passes, the changes will go into effect Oct. 1, according to KOAT.

Sources: KOAT (2), The Washington Times 

Photo Source: ABC News