Roughly 60,000 Missourians will lose access to food stamps unless they meet new stipulations. Beginning on April 1, 2016, Missourians will have to be employed, in school or in job training to qualify for Supplemental Nutrition Access Program benefits.
The requirements reportedly only apply to able-bodied adults without dependents between the ages of 18 and 49, reports Ozarks First.
Missouri chose not to request more time to comply with the federal requirements to receive SNAP, as other states have done.
Ed Bolen, a policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, noted that there is still chronic unemployment in some areas of the state.
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“I certainly hope there’s lots of jobs in those areas of high unemployment, but generally those two things don’t exist in the same place at the same time. So, it could be tough for some folks in the state, where they have high unemployment but the time limit is still coming back into effect,” said Bolen.
Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon of Missouri reportedly tried to veto a law to implement the food stamp requirements, but the veto was overridden by the Missouri Legislature. Now, the state cannot waive the requirements until 2019.
Bolen noted that meeting the work requirements may be difficult for struggling Missourians.
“Because, the rule is, you have to be working more than 20 hours a week to keep your benefits. So, if you have three shifts, 18 hours of work a week on average, and you can’t get an extra couple of hours, you actually lose your food assistance, right at the time you’re trying to work to make ends meet,” said Bolen.
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This is not the first time that Missouri has imposed new restrictions on welfare programs in 2016, reports News Leader. In January, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families system was altered to remove 2,610 families from the program.
Casey Jensen, a Missourian who relied on the TANF program, lamented the new cuts.
“Not being able to meet your child’s needs- if you are not a parent that has struggled with that, then you don’t know how devastating it can be,” said Jensen.