Feeding Louisiana Executive Director shares concerns about SNAP changes
Executive Director of Feeding Louisiana Korey Patty said he thinks the changes coming to the SNAP program could hurt hungry Americans.
Able-bodied adults with no dependents must meet a 20-hour work requirement per week to receive benefits. However, states are able to waive this requirement for areas with high rates of unemployment.
Previously, this could be waived for rates of 2.5%. The new rules would raise this to 6% or higher.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue said there are more jobs than there are people to fill them, and it's time for the laws to get stricter.
"Unfortunately we've created habits out there that are not good for the economy, not good for individuals, and not good for restoring the dignity of work sociologically," he said.
However, Patty said the changes are going to hurt those having trouble finding jobs in areas with less than 6% unemployment.
"What we know is that work requirements don't change the realities of the job landscape for a low-income population. They don't make more jobs available," he said.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Monroe has an unemployment rate of 5.4% as of October 2019, disqualifying those who live there from receiving waivers.
Patty said someone in a place like Monroe might be working an unreliable schedule, but wouldn't be able to get the waiver.
"Maybe they're working a retail job or at a restaurant or something where maybe one week you're going to get 20 hours but next week your schedules cut and you're below that, so that kind of puts you in jeopardy," he said.
The Department of Children and Family Services estimates the change could affect the nearly 50,000 Louisianans who fit the definition of able-bodied adults with no dependents.
Patty said he's worried about food banks picking up the slack in the wake of less federal assistance.
"I think I have concerns and our folks have concerns about being able to effectively meet such an increase in need," he said.
The new rule goes into effect on April 1, 2020.