The USDA released a final rule for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – more commonly known as food stamps – that limits qualifying adults to three months of benefits in a three-year period unless they work or participate in work training for at least 20 hours per week.
The law allows states to apply for waivers of this time limit due to economic conditions, but prior to Wednesday’s rule, counties with an unemployment rate as low as 2.5% were included in waived areas, according to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.
“Now, in the midst of the strongest economy in a generation, we need everyone who can work, to work,” Perdue said. “This rule lays the groundwork for the expectation that able-bodied Americans re-enter the workforce where there are currently more job openings than people to fill them.”
Mayor Garcetti criticized the move.
“We don’t know exactly how many people this would affect in Los Angeles. But we know it’s at least tens of thousands of people who rely on food stamps on top of the hard work that they do to be able to support their families and feed their children,” he said, according to CNN. “And it seems absolutely unconscionable that we’d have an administration in Washington at a moment when so many Americans are still suffering that would literally take away the ability for them to feed their children.”
Earlier Wednesday, Garcetti attended a news conference announcing 500 homeless families with students attending Los Angeles Unified School District campuses will receive Section 8 housing vouchers under a new program.
In August, Garcetti was among 70 U.S. mayors to pen a letter condemning another proposed USDA rule change for those who qualify for SNAP, saying it would “escalate food insecurity and hunger for an estimated 3.1 million individuals”.