As Congress consider additional and inflexible work requirements for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – formerly food stamps) recipients, anti-hunger advocates at the Center for Civil Justice (CCJ) worry that lawmakers are proposing new rules without considering who actually gets SNAP and why. According to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, 92 percent of recipients nationwide are children, the elderly, the disabled, or people who are already working. The overwhelming majority of SNAP recipients who can work, are working. People who voluntarily quit work are disqualified from benefits under current rules.
Advocates say the SNAP program has grown in recent years – not because people are avoiding work, but because the program and community partners are both doing a better job of reaching out to those who aren’t earning enough to make ends meet. “SNAP is a very important supplement for working households and for social security benefits that are too low to pay for all household expenses,” says CCJ’s Executive Director Terri Stangl. “The program should not be attacked because it has been successful for finding and helping those who it was ended to help. It was intended to help those who – after paying housing, childcare and child support expenses – simply don’t have enough money left each month to feed their families.”