Trump administration's new work requirements could mean more than 600,000 people lose access to food stamps

Sonny Perdue.
(Image credit: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images)

A new rule from the Trump administration could prevent more than 600,000 people from gaining access to food stamps, NBC News reports.

The Trump administration Wednesday formalized work requirements for childless, able-bodied people between the ages of 18 and 49 to gain access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Currently, that group, which the Agriculture Department estimates could include around 688,000 people, is required to work at least 20 hours a week for more than three months over a 36-month period to qualify, but states can provide waivers for areas with high unemployment. Under the new rules, it will be more difficult to obtain those waivers, which will be applicable to areas with a minimum of 6 percent unemployment.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the rule change is meant to "restore the dignity of work" and that SNAP, like other welfare programs, "was never intended to be a way of life."

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The move has been met with criticism. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said the Trump administration is not considering how the rule will affect people with "seasonal or part time jobs with unreliable hours," while Stacy Dean — the food assistance policy vice president at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities — noted the new rules don't do anything to help people "find steady full-time work."

Attempts to add work requirements to SNAP were voted down in the House and Senate last year. Read more at NBC News.

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Tim O'Donnell

Tim is a staff writer at The Week and has contributed to Bedford and Bowery and The New York Transatlantic. He is a graduate of Occidental College and NYU's journalism school. Tim enjoys writing about baseball, Europe, and extinct megafauna. He lives in New York City.