The state of Georgia will implement new work requirements for those receiving food stamps in 24 counties across the state.
Originally a pilot program in three counties, the program requires that all able-bodied adults without children either get a job or lose access to food stamps.
Since the pilot program’s start in January, the number of food stamp recipients decreased by 60 percent.
The expansion affects about 10,000 able-bodied adults without children, who must work at least 20 hours a week or be enrolled in state-approved job training.
There is also an option to volunteer at a state-approved non-profit or charity, WJBF reports.
There has been debate over whether the program is effective on both sides of the aisle. Supporters say it helps lazy people re-enter the workforce.
“No one who is able-bodied and able to work should be drawing food stamps, period,” said Rep. Greg Morris, R-Vidalia in a statement to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution.
Opponents of the program, on the other hand, argue that there needs to be more of a safety net.
“There are a lot of people who cannot find jobs based on criminal records, a lack of education, the availability of jobs and impairments,” said Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur) to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution. “I believe we should have a safety net for those people.”
According to the Obama administration’s latest U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics, 43,478,196 Americans currently receive food stamps.
In Georgia, 1.7 million Americans participate in the food stamp program.
Annual costs for food stamps have risen to $74 million per year.
The food stamp work mandate was introduced back in 1996, but it stopped in recent years. Georgia is just one of many states to re-introduce this type of program.