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Washington signaling toward harsh work requirements for hungry NCians

Earlier today, the USDA signaled toward potential changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program [1] (SNAP, formally known as food stamps), that would impose even more strict work requirements for non-disabled adults without children.

Demanding harsh work requirements of those in dire need is not a new idea. During “Welfare Reform” in 1996, Congress created work requirements for mothers receiving cash assistance [2]. But rather than helping families to find work, these requirements simply punished people who were already struggling.

Today, there are 87 counties in North Carolina where there are more jobless workers than there are job opportunities. [3]Click To Tweet [3]Policy makers have done little to promote job growth, especially in rural North Carolina communities, and they have failed to raise the wages of workers who earn poverty-level wages. As of 2015, 1 out of every 3 workers in NC earns too little to keep a family of four above the poverty line [4], even when working full-time. The reality is that far too many North Carolinians still have not recovered from the recession.

Earlier this month, the President proposed cutting SNAP by $213 billion over the next 10 years [5], as well as replacing a portion of SNAP benefits with a government-issued food box.

These proposed changes are not intended to help those who are struggling to place food on the table. Instead, they harm people who just need a helping hand.

Brian Kennedy II is a Public Policy Fellow with the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the North Carolina Justice Center.