An estimated 26,000 Missouri residents have lost their SNAP benefits in the month of April alone. The massive cut in food stamp recipients is a result of reintroduced work requirements.
Since 1996, federal welfare has had work requirements for food stamps recipients. The U.S. Department of Agriculture waived those requirements in nearly every states following the 2008 economic crisis, according to the Columbia Daily Tribune.
On Jan. 1, those work requirements were reinstated in at least 19 states whose lawmakers determined that the job market had adequately improved.
In states such as Missouri, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients who are able-bodied adults aged 18-49 without dependents must now work 20 hours a week or spend an equivalent amount of time seeking employment or engaging in job training programs.
If they failed to comply within three months, they would lose their benefits.
Fast-forward thee months to April, and 26,000 of the 830,000 Missouri residents using SNAP benefits have already been cut from the program.
For Missouri resident Jamie Sloan, the abrupt loss of SNAP benefits was a devastating setback.
"Honestly, I thought I was gonna die," Sloan told KBIA. "I cried. I just fell on the floor and started bawling."
Sloan added that she now relies on her local food bank to survive. According to her, finding steady employment has been a challenge, and she's struggling to keep up with her bills.
"Do I let my electricity stay on or do I shut it off because I have nothing to eat?" Sloan said. "It’s a real big choice."
Republican State Sen. David Sater of Missouri, who co-sponsored a 2015 bill to do away with the state’s federal waiver, said the work requirements are meant as positive encouragement for SNAP recipients.
"People are healthier when they work, their well-being is better," Sater said. "That’s our objective is for people to be self-sufficient and not be on the government payroll."
The Missouri lawmaker added that he has seen numerous "now hiring" signs on his work commute, concluding, "There are jobs out there."
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that in the current job market, it takes an unemployed individual an average of six months to find a consistent job, according to The Washington Post.