Policy groups in Michigan say they are alarmed by language used by the United States Department of Agriculture on Thursday in its call for public comment.
The USDA announced it is seeking comment on how to help people using the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, become more independent.
Peter Ruark is with the Michigan League for Public Policy. He said there’s already plenty of information - and even federal programs - dedicated to this very question.
“There is a lot of literature already written on how you can move low-income people into middle-class type jobs so I’m not sure why they are soliciting comments.”
Ruark said the USDA press release quotes the agriculture secretary as saying the goal is to move individuals and families back to the workforce.
“The implication being that a lot of SNAP recipients don’t work. In fact, most SNAP recipients do work, what would be the motivation not to work? You can’t pay the rent with food assistance.”
Ruark said the press release also indicates another potential change to SNAP.
“The Trump administration has said in order to get a waiver a state must have more than a ten percent unemployment rate for at least twelve months.”
Currently, a roughly 5 percent unemployment rate is enough to receive a waiver.
Statewide an estimated one point three million people are on SNAP.
Ruark said making work requirements more stringent isn’t necessary.
To leave a comment with the USDA you can visit: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/02/23/2018-03752/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-requirements-and-services-for-able-bodied-adults-without