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Mimi Teixeira is a graduate fellow in welfare policy at The Heritage Foundation.
Policymakers are ready to get serious about work requirements for food stamps, with both Congress and the Trump administration working on ways to improve the program.
Week - US - Department - Agriculture - Comments
A little over a week ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it is seeking comments on how best to reintroduce work requirements in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, often referred to as food stamps.
“Too many states have asked to waive work requirements, abdicating their responsibility to move participants to self-sufficiency,” Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said in a press release. “…[U.S. Department of Agriculture] policies must change if they contribute to a long-term failure for many [food stamp] participants and their families.”
Welfare - Reform - Law - States - Waivers
The 1996 welfare reform law allowed states to apply for full or partial waivers of the work requirement based on high unemployment or low job availability. The number of waivers peaked in 2009, when Congress allowed the Obama administration to waive the program’s work requirements for all states.
Many states have become ineligible for waivers again as the economy has recovered, but five states and the District of Columbia still have total waivers, 28 states have partial waivers, and 1,287 of the nation’s 3,142 counties are eligible for waivers as “labor surplus areas.”
Downturn - Decade - Program - Increase - Adults
Unsurprisingly given the economic downturn of the last decade, the program has seen a marked increase of work-capable adults on food stamps. But work-capable adults grew as a proportion of recipients, a trend the economic recovery has yet to reverse.
In 2007, before large-scale state opt-ins for waivers began, 6.6 percent of food...
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