Food stamp use has increased nearly 300 percent nationwide since 2014, despite a drop in the poverty rate, according to a report released Wednesday by The Foundation for Government Accountability.
“Even though poverty rates are declining, the number of people receiving food stamps continues to climb,” the report detailed. “Food stamp spending is growing ten times as fast as federal revenues.”
According to their report — “Restoring Work Requirements Will Help Solve the Food Stamp Crisis” — the problem results from less restrictive eligibility requirements.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the main agency in charge of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). According to its own findings, SNAP has increased from 17 million participants in 2000 to nearly 47 million in 2014. Concurrently, work requirements were waived in many states.
“Federal law generally limits food stamp eligibility for non-disabled childless adults to just three months out of any three-year period unless they meet specified work requirements,” the report also noted. “These work requirements have become irrelevant in recent years, however, as states have been given waivers to exempt able-bodied adults from federal work requirements.”
The Obama administration had granted working requirement waivers to 40 states and partial waivers to another six states. As a result more states are providing food stamp benefits to more adults who don’t work despite not having physical disabilities preventing them from doing so.
“By 2013, a record-high 4.9 million able-bodied, childless adults were receiving food stamps,” the report continued. “Federal spending on food stamps for able-bodied adults skyrocketed to more than $10 billion in 2013, up from just $462 million in 2000.”
The size of the program alone has prompted concern among among many lawmakers. Some on the state and federal level have tried reforming the program by getting work requirements back or adding additional eligibility requirements. In July, the administration for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker sued the USDA after the agency informed the state it could not drug-test those on food stamps. Walker is currently running for the Republican nomination for president.
“The way forward for states could not be more simple or clear,” the report concluded. “Governors should decline to renew the federal waivers that have eliminated work requirements for able-bodied childless adults on food stamps.”
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