It seems a lot of folks in Alabama will be going hungry this year.
Nearly 35,000 Alabama residents have been removed from the state's food stamp program due to new requirements mandating that all able-bodied adults either work or lose their benefits, according to AL.com.
The sate's Draconian measure has decreased the amount of able-bodied adults receiving food stamps by nearly 70 percent, according to Barry Spear of the Alabama Department of Human Resources. On Jan. 1, the state had 49,940 food-stamp eligible able-bodied adults. As of May 1, that number had dwindled to 15,375, representing a monthly savings of more than $6 million, Spear said.
The goal of providing food stamps, otherwise known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is "to end hunger and improve nutrition by providing monthly benefits to eligible low income households," according to Alabama's benefits.gov website. A household's eligibility is determined by the household size, and annual pre-tax income. For example, a family of four must earn less than $31,525 pre-tax in order to qualify for the SNAP program in Alabama.
The new regulation is part of an expiration of a federal waiver that allowed 22 states, including Alabama, to grant exemptions to work requirements for those receiving SNAP.
Able-bodied recipients of food stamps in Alabama must now work at least part-time in order to qualify for the program. The state defines 'part-time work' as work that encompasses at least 20 hours per week.
For those who could not find such work, their benefits expired April 1; an income loss that could total as much as $170 per person per month.
There are several exceptions to the work requirements, such as those who are physically or mentally unable to work, are pregnant, share a responsibility for a dependent child under age 18, are caring for an incapacitated person, are a student at least half-time in a school or training program, or are participating in an alcohol/drug rehabilitation program.
Alabama's Department of Human Resources claims it sent out 32,672 notices to Alabama residents who were in danger of losing their SNAP benefits. They had first been notified in December, and then again in subsequent months.