Report: 40,000 Kentuckians could lose food stamps with new work requirement

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) -- A new rule set to go into effect April 1 could boot 40,000 Kentuckians off the nation’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program if recipients can’t find work. Roughly 688,000 others nationwide are in the same boat.

A new rule set to go into effect April 1 could boot 40,000 Kentuckians off the nation’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program if recipients can’t find work. Roughly 688,000 others nationwide are in the same boat.

The final rule will limit the ability of states to exempt work-eligible adults from having to obtain steady employment in order to receive benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The program feeds more than 36 million Americans.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s rule change would force able-bodied recipients to find work fulfilling a 20 hour a week requirement. The rule would not affect a full time caretaker.

The Herald Leader reports the change could affect 8% of Kentuckians using the program. That levels-off around 40,000 people that rely on the assistance.

The Department of Agriculture says this is to repair loopholes that have been created in the system. The change is an item the Trump administration has called for since stepping into office.

Meanwhile, Feeding Kentucky says this could cause havoc for food pantries across the nation.

Feeding Kentucky acts as the middle man for hundreds of food pantries across Kentucky. They work to find resources and send them to pantries ultimately to be passed out in communities.

Kentucky remains as a top state for hunger to be a living issue.

Feeding Kentucky says the change will cause more people to take advantage of pantries, which in theory is what they are for. However, the organization says many pantries are already unable to provide for the need at hand.

"We know the last time we surveyed all 800 pantries, more than half of them said the regularly run out of food every time they are open,” said Feeding Kentucky Executive Director Tamara Sandberg. “The food network is already struggling.”

Sandberg says her team also believe there is not enough entry-level jobs for every person looking for work to fill.

In 2018 a new state rule required thousands of adults without dependents or a disability to begin logging work hours. The rule was found to be barely enforced – many citing problems accessing an online database to log work hours. Kentucky then saw over 15,000 food stamp recipients lose benefits.

Sandberg says they will adjust to whatever the outcome is but say the effect of a rule like this will cause many Kentuckians they work with every day to suffer.



 
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