SANTA FE (KRQE) – A hundred people or more showed up to a meeting about proposed food stamp changes and many were not happy. The State wants to require recipients to get a job if they want to receive benefits. The Human Services Department says this proposal will help people become more self-sufficient but critics say it will mean less food on the table for those who need it most.
“We stand strongly opposed to the new work requirements,” said one speaker. “It’s just bad policy,” said another.
One by one, people took to the podium at Friday’s Human Services Department food stamp hearing to share their concerns about the proposed changes.
“I think the work requirement is based on the mistaken notion that people receiving SNAP benefits don’t know how to spend their time to better their lives,” said another opponent.
In 2009, in the middle of the recession, the state stopped requiring people on food stamps to have jobs. However, this proposal would change that because the state says it was never meant to be a permanent rule.
“Really, what we’re looking to do is give people an additional hand up,” says HSD’s Matt Kennicott.
This plan would impact 80,000 of the state’s 420,000 food stamp recipients.
For parents with kids six or older or who have kids that aren’t in school Kennicott says, “Those people would only be required to look for a job.”
Adults without kids would have to work 20 hours a week, go through job training or get involved in community service.
Yet, the state says they wouldn’t do it alone.
“We’ve heard today people do want to work and we will provide those resources,” says Kennicott.
The State says it would connect people to potential employers and job training and would work with them on resumes and interviewing.
Yet, Senator Michael Padilla isn’t on board. He says this is a bad time to implement these changes because job growth is so slow.
“I don’t know why the change is actually necessary then, because folks are out there looking for work,” Padilla says.
The State says there are exceptions to this proposal like, women who are pregnant and people who care for the elderly. The State also says very rural areas will likely be exempt.
It says it will have a final report written up by mid-September and a decision by October.