PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Trump administration is considering tightening work requirements for Americans on food stamps that could eliminate 750,000 Americans from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program or SNAP.
“It had become a way of life for many able-bodied working adults without dependents who had just relied on food stamps without looking for a job,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue Thursday morning.
Perdue says with unemployment so low, able-bodied Americans should be working.
“We have an economy with 3.7 percent unemployment, more jobs than people. We need American workers, and we want to restore the dignity of work for the American worker,” said Perdue.
But Ken Regal, executive director of Just Harvest, a local social service non-profit agency, says there already is a work requirement for able-bodied recipients.
“People who are in that category are only allowed to receive three months of food stamps every three years unless they are documenting with the Department of Human Services that they are working at least 80 hours per month,” Regal told KDKA money editor Jon Delano.
The Trump plan would make it harder for states to waive work requirements already in place, for example, when local unemployment is high or local jobs are hard to find.
Regal says tens of thousands of people are on food stamps in this region.
“The average household receives about $240 a month worth of food stamps, about $120 for the average individual,” he said.
The proposed rules change could affect many here, says Regal.
“This would have the effect of kicking about three-quarters of a million people nationwide off food stamps,” notes Regal, “without regard to whether or not they can really individually find a job. Looking for a job 80 hours a month is not good enough under these rules.”