Tougher work requirements to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits are being proposed in Washington that could leave some Ohioans hungry.
According to the Associated Press, the latest proposal would require states to impose stricter work requirements for recipients between age 18-59. Currently, adults 18-59 are required to work part-time or agree to accept a job if they’re offered one. Stricter rules apply to able-bodied adults without dependents between the ages of 18 and 49, who are subject to a three-month limit of benefits unless they meet a work requirement of 80 hours per month. Under the new bill, that requirement would be expanded to apply to all work-capable adults, mandating that they either work or participate in work training for 20 hours per week with the exception of seniors, pregnant women, caretakers of children under the age of six, or people with disabilities.
“A family of four on $103 (per month)… my snap benefits last maybe two weeks,” said Mark Prince.
Although Prince is disabled and proposed changes wouldn’t effect his SNAP benefits, he said he still needs to go to food pantries like the All People’s Fresh Market to help feed his family.
“Not all people can work, the have children at home, they might have physical ailments, especially mental illness, so how will they be able to work?” he said.
Food pantry director at Broad Street Presbyterian Kathy Kelly-Long said stricter rules may leave more families without SNAP.
“If more people lose their SNAP benefits and have less money to spend on food, they’re going to be turning to us again,” she said. “The system is already working really hard to keep up with the need that’s out there.”
Vice president of communications and public affairs for the Mid-Ohio Food Bank Marilyn Tomasi said people receiving SNAP are already working, but still can’t make a living wage to support their families.
“Work requirements already exist and so, Congress, if they truly want to improve SNAP then they ought to focus on the requirements they already have in place,” said Tomasi. “We’re looking at a $200 billion cut over 10 years with SNAP and folks who are on SNAP they just like you and me, they want to feed their families.”
“We know that people who are SNAP have healthier outcomes than those low-income populations who are not receiving SNAP,” said Tomasi. “If we want to improve health outcomes, we want to mitigate healthcare costs, then we should all be out there advocating on behalf of this efficient and effective program.”
The Mid-Ohio Food Bank provided 155,000 meals per day last year. Tomasi said if SNAP benefits are reduced, charity will not be able to keep up with demand.