Ozarks Tonight: Why changes to SNAP will hurt people in Missouri

Ozarks Tonight

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The Trump Administration approved stricter requirements for the Food Stamps program starting in 2020.

About 688,000 people could lose their snap benefits next year. People between the ages of 18 and 40 will be required to work 20 hours a week to receive SNAP benefits in 2020. They are eligible for the program for three months in a three-year period. This does not include people who have children or disabled individuals.

Several organizations have spoken out against this decision, including Empower Missouri, a non-profit advocating for the well-being of all Missourians through civic leadership and education, according to its website.

Susan Schmalzbauer, a representative of Empower Missouri says those living in more rural areas will be more impacted because good jobs are hard to come by. It will be especially difficult, she says, in counties where the unemployment rate is higher.

She says this change takes the power away from states, with the government taking away states’ option to apply for waivers.

In a statement released last week, Empower Missouri said a similar rule has already had a negative impact on Missouri in 2015.

“The Missouri State General Assembly passed SB 24, which prevented the Department of Social Services from requesting these waivers in any geographic area, regardless of economic conditions.

According to a memo from Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, SB 24 resulted in 52,964 ABAWDS losing their ability to utilize snap in 2016, and another 25,646 losing that ability in 2017.”

Empower Missouri is now encouraging litigation to prevent the implementation of this rule which it calls misinformed and harmful.

The administration says this change is to encourage adults with no children and no disabilities to get permanent full-time and get off assistance. It said that SNAP was meant to be temporary assistance and not a way of life.

But Empower Missouri, like other organizations and lawmakers, believes it’s just not that simple.

“It’s really hard to get a job when you’re hungry,” Schmalzbauer said.

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