Georgia is seeing a deep decline in the number of residents dependent on food stamps as the Peach State’s economy continues to rebound from the Great Recession.
The number of Georgia residents receiving food stamps has dropped by 300,000–from 1.9 million in April 2013 to 1.6 million, according to data published by the state’s Division of Family and Children Services.
The 16 percent decline accounts for tens of millions of dollars in monthly savings for federal taxpayers.
Last month, 7,251 of the estimated 11,779 people receiving food stamps in 21 Georgia counties dropped out of the program—a drop of 62 percent, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
The steady decline comes as the state continues to expand its work requirements for food stamps recipients.
The work requirement is active in 24 counties currently, with 60 more counties being added next year. The state’s goal is to include all 159 counties by 2019.
Georgia’s unemployment rate has bounced back to pre-recession levels; however, the decline in the state’s food stamp program has not dropped at the same rate.
State Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) said while food stamps should remain available for children and elderly citizens, able-bodied Georgians need to be removed from the program.
“I think there’s a lot of fraud with food stamps,” Unterman said. “There’s a history of a lot of waste in our program.”
Unterman’s mandate is gaining momentum in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget aims to save about $190 billion during the next ten years by requiring able-bodied adults to work to receive food stamps–similar to Georgia’s statewide directive.
In his letter to Congress last month, President Trump said, “We must reform our welfare system so that it does not discourage able-bodied adults from working, which takes away scarce resources from those in real need. Work must be the center of our social policy.”
White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said at a press conference, “If you’re on food stamps and you’re able-bodied, then we need you to go to work.”
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