Work Requirement Trigger Predictable Drop In Arkansas Food Stamp Enrollment

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Food stamp enrollment dropped by 25,000 people in Arkansas in 2016, after the state reinstated work requirements limited individuals to three months of benefits unless they found or trained for a job, Arkansas Online reports.

Arkansas stopped granting waivers to work requirements January 1, 2016, and by April, 9,000 people were off of food stamps, also called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Another 15,000 more lost their benefits between April and November, a spokesperson for the Arkansas Department of Human Services told Arkansas Online.

Nationwide enrollment in the food stamps peaked at 47 million people in 2013, after President Barack Obama allowed states to waive work requirements for the program in qualified counties while the economy recovered.

More than 44 million people are still on food stamps according to Department of Agriculture data, but that number is dropping as states reinstate the work requirements even before required to do so by federal law. (RELATED: 7 States Are Ready To Cut Special Post-Recession Food Stamp Program)

Waivers are granted to counties who fall below a certain poverty threshold, and even though 25 counties in Arkansas still qualified for work requirement waivers in 2016, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson chose not to grant those waivers.

“It’s personal accountability,” J.R. Davis, a spokesman for Hutchinson’s office, told Arkansas Online. “If you’re receiving these SNAP benefits, you can continue to receive those SNAP benefits, but you have to work if you’re between 18 and 49 — that’s a conservative philosophy that the governor believes.”

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