Louisiana began a program July 1 which orders able-bodied adults to participate in a work training scheme in order to obtain food stamps.
Food stamp recipients who are not in school or work and have no dependents under the age of 18 must now take part in enhanced job training, according to an order issued by Governor John Bel Edwards.
“These new requirements are part of a broader commitment to getting Louisianans back to work,” Edwards told KATC. “I promised last year that Louisiana would create an innovative program to connect SNAP participants with the job training they need to be successful. With these new standards, our state is taking advantage of existing successful Louisiana workforce programs to help train and employ more of our citizens.”
Due to high unemployment levels in the state, Louisiana has been exempt for 19 years from the time limit normally imposed on able-bodied adults claiming food stamps. This restriction means that food stamps are only available for three months in a 36 month period, unless the recipient undertakes work.
Able-bodied adults can currently claim a maximum of $194 in food aid each month through the program which is officially known as the supplementary nutritional assistance program (SNAP).
Around 70,000 people on the food stamp program in Louisiana are considered “ABAWDs,” able-bodied adults without dependents, but only 52,000 will be affected by the changes. The remainder either already work or are otherwise exempted from the training requirement.
“We want to be that safety net while at the same time trying to get these people to become self-sufficient,” Sammy Guillory, deputy assistant secretary of the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services, told WVUE.
The department is collaborating with local technical colleges and the Louisiana Workforce Commission to implement the program.
“It is a model template, and I think that you're going to see interest from around the country because no other state is doing this,” said Edwards.
Officials believe partnering food stamp claimants with already established training programs will prove successful.
“We've developed a Louisiana solution that meets the challenges of Louisiana's workers, and I am optimistic that we will see more people go into the workforce in the long-term,” Edwards told KATC.
Guillory made clear that those who failed to comply would face the consequences.
“Ultimately, if they do not comply and do not have a very good reason for not complying, they can lose their SNAP benefits,” he told WVUE.