Yesterday Breitbart reported that in the last year food stamp [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)] enrollment has gone down in 46 out of the 50 states. The biggest drops were in Connecticut, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C.
The article reports:
Connecticut saw the largest drop, with SNAP enrollment dropping 25.4 percent from May 2016 to May 2017.
The state also saw a pretty hefty drop in enrollment over one month — Connecticut’s enrollment in the food stamp program dropped 14.2 percent from April 2017 to May 2017.
North Carolina saw the second-largest decrease in SNAP enrollment with a 14.2 drop in the number of state residents participating in the food stamp program.
Part of the decrease has to do with a provision in the 2009 economic stimulus bill. The bill included a waiver of the work requirement in areas that were economically depressed.
The article explains:
The economic boom in these towns no longer made them eligible as of April 1, 2016, for a waiver from SNAP regulations. These regulations were put in place nationwide before the recession and require able-bodied adults without children to work at least 20 hours week, enroll in school, or take part in state-approved job training if they receive benefits for more than three months.
…The only four states that did not see declines in food stamp enrollment are Alaska, Kentucky, Montana, and Illinois. Each of those states reported slight gains in SNAP enrollment. Alaska saw the biggest increase in food stamp enrollment, with SNAP participation increasing by 4.1 percent. Illinois saw the second-largest increase in SNAP enrollment at 3.4 percent, and Montana reported an increase of 3 percent.
All of those states participate in the waiver program either statewide or in certain towns because of chronic unemployment in those areas.
Nationwide, food stamp enrollment has been on the downswing. Food stamp use in the U.S. fell to its lowest level in seven years, and 1.1 million Americans dropped off the food stamp rolls since President Trump took office.
There is a basic lesson here. When there is a work requirement to collect food stamps, enrollment goes down.
As I reported in July:
For example, in July 2014, Maine announced that it would no longer grant waivers from the work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependent children.
In order to receive benefits, they would thus have to work, participate in a work program for 20 hours per week, or do community service for about six hours per week.
It is important to note that this policy did not arbitrarily cut food stamp recipients from the program rolls. Able-bodied adults without dependent children in Maine were removed from the rolls only if they refused to participate in modest activities.
In fact, most of these individuals in Maine chose to leave the program rather than participate in training or community service, despite the strong outreach efforts of government caseworkers. This indicates that these individuals had other means of supporting themselves.
As a result of the new policy, the Maine caseload for able-bodied adults without dependent children dropped 80 percent in just a few months, falling from 13,332 in December 2014 to 2,678 recipients in March 2015.
I wonder what Congress had in mind when the waivers were put in place in 2009. We now have the examples of Alaska, Kentucky, Montana, and Illinois. All of those states still have the waivers, and they are the only four states whose economies have not improved sufficiently to remove the waivers. Food stamps without a work or training requirement does not help anyone–it simply creates dependency. How many times do we have to see this principle in action before we learn that lesson?