Community Issues

Federal Food Stamp Changes Could Lead to Big Cuts

80,000 could see benefits limited in Pennsylvania.

A plan to change federal rules to the food stamp program could have major implications locally. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is considering overhauling rules for able-bodied adults who do not have dependent children.

Under the proposed changes, these individuals would face a three-month time limit to receive Supplementary Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits if they are not working at least 20 hours per week. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the changes would affect as many as 80,000 people in Pennsylvania. Many of these recipients do not face the time limit due to state waivers, but the proposed changes would cut back on the state's ability to grant waivers.

The Pennsylvanians affected are residents ages 18 to 49 who do not receive federal disability assistance.

Nationally, about 755,000 would lose their SNAP if the Trump Administration's rule change takes effect, according to federal estimates.

"We think the purpose is to help people move to independency...We should help people when they are down but that should not be interminable," Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said at a February hearing.

The rule change would allow exemptions for people living in places with a 7 percent unemployment rate or greater for a 24-month period. Anti-hunger activist Ann Sanders told the Post-Gazette that locally that would only apply to McKeesport and New Castle.

"Taking away someone's basic food assistance is not going to help anybody get to work," Sanders said, arguing the new rules would do more harm than good.

If you want to comment on the proposed changes, you can share your thoughts with the Department of Agriculture by clicking here.

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