New rule could drop 700,000 from federal food stamp program


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Today, the Trump administration announced a new rule to the federal food stamp program known as SNAP.

The new rule sets work requirements for able-bodied people who have no dependents. They will now have to work a minimum of 20 hours weekly if they want to keep getting federal assistance.

Nearly 700,000 people across the U.S. could be dropped from snap if they do not meet the new requirements. Over 100,000 of those people are right here in Illinois.

However, people in Champaign who work with SNAP recipients say that might not be realistic.

“If you were to take 100,000 people and ask them to find jobs that are going to be consistently at 20 hours a week and over time…we need to have more infrastructure for those jobs,” says Champaign County Health Care Consumers employee Ashley Buckley.

Others who research programs like SNAP say there are also personal obstacles that can make it difficult for people to adhere to the new rule.

“Often times is they may not have skills that can get them a job. They may have undiagnosed mental health issues [or] physical health issues,” says U of I College of Aces Professor Craig Gundersen. “[There are] many things that might prevent them from working even though they’re considered able-bodied. They may not be readily employable.”

They say these changes will also affect more than just people in the program.

“It’s going to affect the food pantry. It’s going to have a community ripple,” says Buckley.

Eastern Illinois food bank says they are already thinking about what this could mean for them.

It’s going to really impact the work that we do. We struggle to get enough food anyway,” says food bank CEO Jim Hires. “If those people now have to rely on resources that we have, we’re going to have to work even harder.”

SNAP also sets time limits on how long people can receive assistance. It is usually 3 months if the person is not working or going to school.

In the past, that rule was able to be waived in counties where unemployment rates are at 2.5 percent or higher. However, the new rule raised that percentage to six.

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