AP NEWS

Rule seeks to tighten work requirements for food stamps

January 3, 2019

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A new rule proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is alarming Alaska food security advocates who say it would make it tougher to waive work requirements for food stamps.

Alaska has held a waiver for years to exempt recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program from a rule requiring able-bodied adults to participate in an employment program in order to get assistance, the Anchorage Daily News reported this week.

The rule proposed last month would make it harder for states to get that waiver, said Monica Windom, director of the Alaska Division of Public Assistance.

Without the waiver, adults between the ages of 18 and 49 who are without dependents have to participate in employment, work training or an approved volunteer position at least 20 hours a week to get food stamps for more than three months over a period of three years.

“Long-term reliance on government assistance has never been part of the American dream,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a statement. “As we make benefits available to those who truly need them, we must also encourage participants to take proactive steps toward self-sufficiency.”

Alaska advocates fear the proposed rule could cause a disruption on people who live in subsistence-dependent villages where there are few jobs. Food stamps help supplement subsistence diets in some villages where cash economies are weak.

Residents in these villages typically contribute to the community food supply by hunting, fishing, gathering and sharing.

“Punishing workers who are struggling to find work by taking away their food assistance won’t help them find a better job or find work faster,” Food Bank of Alaska CEO Jim Baldwin said in a statement.

Alaska’s waiver would end in October 2019 if the proposed rule moves forward, Windom said. The state would need to apply for a new waiver under the new requirements.

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Information from: Anchorage Daily News, http://www.adn.com