Proposed Farm Bill has SNAP recipients in Madison County concerned

ANDERSON, Ind.– Concerns are growing in Madison County over a bill going through Congress. A version that narrowly passed in the U.S. House would impose stricter work requirements for food stamp recipients. The proposed Farm Bill would require 20 hours of work a week from all adults, except for a few groups.

United Way of Madison County says there are more than 19,000 people in the county who do not have reliable access to affordable food. That’s nearly 15 percent of the county’s population. United Way of Madison County president Nancy Vaughan believes more people would go to food pantries if there were a work requirement.

“Can we just help them first and then help them get the jobs and give them some time to do that?” she asked.

Dozens in Anderson filled up shopping carts at Operation Love Ministries’ food pantry on Wednesday afternoon. Some parents were just excited to cook dinner that night.

Christopher, 49, stopped by to help feed himself and his 15-year-old daughter. This service helps his family because they live off child care and food stamps. He hasn’t worked in 13 years.

“I have health issues and other issues that keep me from working. I have a third grade education. I used to be an alcoholic. I forget,” he said.

He said he is worried about the House’s proposed Farm Bill that would require snap recipients to work. The House’s version calls for able-bodied adults ages 18-59 to work 20 hours a week or participate in job training to maintain their benefits. There are exceptions for seniors, pregnant women, parents with children under 6 or people with disabilities. The Senate’s bill made no changes to SNAP.

Currently, able-bodied adults ages 18-49 without children are required to work 20 hours a week to maintain their SNAP benefits.

Christopher said he and his daughter would go hungry if they did not have food stamps.

“That would make me worse depressed because that is not fair to my daughter,” he said.

Some Indiana state lawmakers are in support of the change to the program stating it will save taxpayer dollars–up to $20 billion over 10 years–and increase economic growth by encouraging workforce development.

Congressman Jim Banks sent CBS4 this statement:

“Even more importantly, the work requirement reforms would help empower SNAP recipients to work to better themselves and ensure long-term solvency of the program for others in need. Welfare must not become a way of life, and work requirements can help ensure that all Americans can access the American Dream.”

Lawmakers will need to compromise soon because current law expires on Sept. 30. President Trump has already shown his support for the change.

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