Thousands of people in the Atlanta area could lose their food stamp benefits as of April 1.
That's the deadline able-bodied adults without children were given to secure jobs or register in a state-approved job training program, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The deadline impacts food stamp recipients in Cobb, Gwinnett and Hall counties.
However, the vast majority of the people in that category -- about 5,000 of them -- are expected to lose their benefits, according to estimates from the Georgia Division of Children and Family Services. They receive an average of $190 a month in food stamps, the Journal-Constitution reported.
The cuts to food stamp programs are a result of scaled-back federal spending on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
Under the original Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, signed by then-President Bill Clinton in 1996, recipients were eligible for three months' worth of food stamp benefits. The three-month limit was waived in 2009 because of the economic recession and high unemployment numbers, but that waiver expired.
As a result, states have scaled back food stamp and EBT benefits. The only exceptions are based on geography, in counties where unemployment rates remain high.
Advocates of the change say it will force people to rejoin the workforce.
“This is going to make people step up and look for a job,” Republican State Rep. David Clark told the Journal-Constitution.
Opponents, however, say the expiring benefits will cripple the poor and people who are not able to work because of varying circumstances.
“The effect is likely to be very harsh on people who can’t get jobs, and who now won’t have the money to get food,” said Charlie Bliss, advocacy director for the Atlanta Legal Aid Society.
Nationally, more than 500,000 adults are expected to lose food stamp benefits in 2016, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.