Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia are scrambling to address a Trump administration policy change that will keep nearly 700,000 of their poorest residents from accessing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly called food stamps.
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced last month that in an effort "to restore the dignity of work," the Trump administration would limit states from waiving work requirements in areas of high unemployment for people between the ages of 18 and 49 who are childless and not disabled.
Under current rules, this group is required to work at least 20 hours a week for more than three months over a 36-month period to qualify for SNAP, but states were able to acquire a waiver from the federal government in areas of their state that faced high unemployment.
That's no longer the case after April 1, when the administration's latest rule takes effect, leaving affected states rushing to notify the residents at risk of losing their benefits. Many are also working to mitigate the fallout by ensuring that those affected are indeed "able-bodied" and don't fall under a limited number of exemptions, including taking care of a child or an incapacitated person, physical or mental limitations, participation in an alcohol or drug treatment program, pregnancy or pursuing school or volunteer work.