The New Mexico legislature's recent proposal to add requirements to those seeking to get food stamps is already coming under fire, including from the state's Catholic bishops who have voiced opposition.
Several months ago, the state government proposed mandating additional activities, such as community service, for New Mexicans seeking or already gaining benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The system currently requires those receiving food stamps to be actively looking for employment and to also undergo training, according to KRWG.
However, upon its announcement, the proposal immediately drew criticism.
“We want the Governor to know that these so-called work requirements are not a job program, and they do nothing to alleviate hunger in our state. New Mexico is being ravaged by hunger and a dismal economy, and we need the state's leadership to stop attacking our most vulnerable families- the very same families that we need to help us build our economy back up,” said Rodrigo Rodriguez of the SouthWest Organizing Program to KRWG.
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However, the biggest critics of the state government’s idea were New Mexico’s Catholic bishops, who quickly denounced the extra requirements.
“This is a burdensome rule, and will take food off the table of poor people,” said Allen West, executive director for the New Mexico Conference of Bishops, reports KOAT.
Additional criticism of the proposal aired during a recent government-sponsored town hall meeting. The event gave those who could not attend the Human Services Department hearing the opportunity to voice their opinions, reports KRWG.
One attendee was Amber Diaz, who receives SNAP benefits. With a young child and a full-time job, she told the gathering she would not know how to handle the additional requirements.
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"Where do you find the time to volunteer? It's really difficult, especially if you're a single parent and have no family here to take care of or babysit your child," Diaz told KOAT.
The public will have another chance to weigh in on the matter at a July 17 forum to be held by New Mexico's Human Services Department.