MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The latest figures from the Department of Agriculture show that 36 million people in the U.S. receive food stamps. Data from August shows that around 700,000 of them are from Alabama.
That’s approximately the same number of people who will lose benefits under a new Trump administration rule.
One Alabama senator said he’s totally against the changes.
Senator Doug Jones opposes the recent changes to the Food Stamp Program for several reasons. The biggest is kids in families who are truly struggling to put food on the table.
The Trump administration will require able-bodied food stamp recipients to work in order to receive food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP.
The administration said the rule change is necessary to save money and promote work for those able-bodied adults.
Jones said he believes the new changes are not well thought out.
“I think it’s totally misguided. I think it’s a political statement and not one of reality,” he explained.
The Food Stamp Program already requires non-disabled, working-age adults, without dependents, to have jobs. Currently, adults without dependents can only receive benefits for three months over a three-year period unless they are working or in training programs for 20 hours each week.
Jones said employment isn’t the issue, it’s making sure people who already have jobs can afford to live.
“The fact of the matter is wages have not kept up with inflation,” he added. “Wages have been somewhat stagnant.”
He believes the change specifically hurts kids who can’t control their situation.
“Everybody is working to create more jobs, but in the meantime, these folks need this assistance and the children of these families need this assistance,” said Jones.
He hopes the Trump Administration rethinks its position on the new changes.
“I don’t see the political upside for any of this,” said Jones. “It was considered as part of the Farm Bill last year and rejected by the Senate.”
The changes go into effect in April.
North Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks said the new changes are a good idea.
He referred to people in the program who don’t work as “slackers taking money from hard-working taxpayers.”
The change is expected to save some $1.1 billion in the first year and $7.9 billion over five years.