Unbelievable: Last minute bill would limit food assistance, expand hunger in N.C.

SNAPvote[UPDATE: This bill passed its “second reading” today and is scheduled for a final vote in the Senate next Monday.] Another “you can’t make this stuff up” bill has emerged in the final days of the 2015 state legislative session. Under an amendment tacked on to a bill originally designed to target the employment of undocumented immigrants, SNAP benefits (i.e. Food Stamps) would be made significantly harder to obtain for childless adults in struggling parts of North Carolina.

Here’s the deal:

SNAP benefits are limited under federal law to three months out of every three years for childless, non-disabled adults unless they are working at least half time, participating in a qualified job training program for 20 hours a week, or in workfare. This time limit applies regardless of whether these individuals are actually able to find employment or training opportunities.

This can obviously work a great hardship. In North Carolina, for example, 83 counties actually have more jobless workers than job openings.

Thankfully, federal allows states to suspend the time limit in areas with high unemployment. As a result, every state except Delaware has waived the time limit for at least part of their state at some point. During the recent recession, many states qualified for state-wide waivers from the time limit. Most states will have to reimpose the time limit for at least part of their state in 2016. North Carolina has already applied for a waiver for 77 of the state’s 100 counties — i.e. the ones with high unemployment rates.

Absurdly, however, under the new provision (click here and scroll to page 6) the Department of Health and Human Services would be barred from applying for a waiver, effectively reimposing the time limit even though parts of the state qualify for a waiver due to high unemployment. This unnecessarily restricts food assistance for poor childless adults in areas where the economy has not yet fully recovered.

This bill would further prevent the state from ever requesting a waiver, removing an important state response to future economic downturns.

The bottom line: If the bill becomes law, a large number of hurting North Carolinians in some of the state’s least healthy communities will lose yet another small lifeline that allows them to survive. On the day Pope Francis is receiving global accolades for calling on Americans to help the poor, North Carolina lawmakers are, once more, doing the exact opposite.

Adjournment of the 2015 session cannot come soon enough.


  1. Jo Anne Benware

    September 24, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    Just like republicans to take away even more from the poor. Tacking on a bill hoping it will get passed because no one noticed. It. I am so sick and tired of republicans in office out for themselves and their rich little buddies. Are you doing a study on how long it would take someone to starve to death. At some point in anyone’s life they will need help. I needed help once back in 1981 for a few months until I went to LPN school in upstate NY. I left the Bronx Moved in with my Parents. Please note that I did not say back to them. I never lived in upstate NY until 1980. I was off welfare the day I started school. I am thankful that my government had this. There are so many people out there without jobs because they have no training. They can’t afford training because their job became redundant. Its a catch 22. But republicans love to slash anything that benefits the country unless its a war. They con’t work against the people of this country. Make community colleges free, offer scholarships for automotive training, construction training, welding, carpentry Whatever we need.
    The cost of college is out of hand.
    Charge the foreigners top dollar, 4 year college loans with a 1% interest rate.
    Do something for the people of the United States.
    This goes for Democrats too. Work harder for us. Make sure that Americans are not being taken advantage of. Do something, fight back.

  2. Pertains!

    September 24, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    Just proves they do not watch national news regarding their own party.
    The national nominees are proof that it is time to throw the “professional” politicians out.
    When Trump is their most favorite you would think these big NC fish in a little mud puddle would think maybe people in NC are looking at them in the same way.
    We are just waiting for the next election. Hungry and angry people still vote. People without jobs have nothing else to do but think about the ones who enacted such hurtful laws.

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