New work rule could impact food stamps program

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Anti-hunger advocates in Kentucky are worried thousands of people will be at risk of losing food stamp benefits they rely on.

The Trump Administration announced a rule will go into effect his spring limiting states’ abilities to regulate benefits.

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Feeding Kentucky says thousands of people use food stamps in the bluegrass state.

At the federal level, work requirements are set for people who want to be in the program.

Right now, states are able to waive those requirements for adults who don’t have steady jobs.

President Trump’s new rule would means states will be limited to the waivers it can grant.

USDA says the rule will get SNAP back to its original purpose of being a service that can assist people, not become a way of life.

According to the Kentucky Center of Economic Policy, many counties in the state had waivers. It says from January 2018 to August 2019, 30,000 people lost their food assistance since the state let waivers expire.

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services says eight counties still have waivers, but those will expire at the end of the month. Those counties include Bell, Clay, Harlan, Leslie, Letcher, Perry, Pike, and Whitley.

The Kentucky Center of Economic Policy says about there’s about 9,000 people in those eight counties that are impacted.

“When they start cutting the basic safety net that allows people to eat, it’s just wrong,” said James Barnett, ACCESS Men’s Shelter Director.

Feeding Kentucky’s executive director says if these counties can’t have waivers more people are going to go hungry.

“We will not be able to meet the increased need for food assistance that would result from this rule,” said Tamara Sandberg, Feeding KY Executive Director.

The new rule is scheduled to go into effect on April 1.