More people looking to get food stamps in New Mexico may have to start working for them.
The state is taking steps to expand the number of food stamp recipients who will have to work for their benefits, according to the Alburqurque Journal.
The Human Services Department has proposed requirements that would have parents of children older than 6 years of age to participate in up to 80 hours a month of activities, including job searches, training and community service.
Currently, the rules apply to single, able-bodied food stamp recipients aged 18-50, but would be expanded under the recommendations to include those aged 16 – 60, according to the Journal.
The proposal follows a 21 percent increase in state residents enrolling in the SNAP program in the year that ended in April. With the increase, 20 percent of the state on the food assistance program, the Journal reported.
Republican Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration believes the new requirements will force recipients to get the training and skills needed to take care of themselves.
“In addition to reducing recipients’ need for assistance, work programs seek to enhance recipients’ sense of self-worth and esteem,” the Human Services Department wrote in its employment and training plan for 2016. “Working parents provide an appropriate role model for children in the home, thereby contributing to a reduction in multi-generational dependency.”
According to KOAT pregnant women and the disabled would be exempt from the new rules, but opponents still argue that the requirements will only hurt a state already suffering from hunger and poverty.
“Ultimately, it’s going to be the family that is going to have less Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits if the adult is not able to comply,” Louise Pocock, a staff attorney with the New Mexico Center for Law and Poverty told KOAT.
“Requirements that limit people’s access, whether they be through work or other state option requirements such as they’re implementing, undermine the purpose of the SNAP,” she said.
But the administration argues the rules are nothing new.
“They were in existence in 2009 and all we are really doing with this is restoring those previous government requirements,” department spokesman Matt Kennicott said.
It’s hard to see what’s unfair about asking someone who is able-bodied to work for their food like everyone else.
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