More than 5.9 million individuals dropped off food stamps since President Donald Trump assumed office in February 2017, according to the latest data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The most up-to-date USDA data shows that 5,975,736 people discontinued using food stamps, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), between February 2017— when Trump completed his first full month in office— and September 2019.
Household participation in the food stamp program has gone down as well, with 2,493,912 households discontinuing their participation in SNAP, according to the USDA.
There are currently 36,322,055 individuals and 18,443,991 households enrolled in the food stamp program. Still, USDA officials said those numbers are “preliminary” due to the 2018 government shutdown, which affected food stamp administration at the beginning of 2019.
When Trump took office, 42,297,791 individuals and 20,937,903 households were enrolled in SNAP.
Individual and household participation in SNAP had consistently declined overall since 2013, when the Obama administration was in power, and enrollment in the program reached its highest point in U.S. history.
At the Great Recession’s peak during former President Barack Obama’s first term in office, enrollment in SNAP grew by 135 percent and cost taxpayers $78 billion.
Food stamp enrollment plummeted after state legislatures passed work requirement reform measures to curb dependency on welfare, requiring food stamp recipients to work, volunteer, attend school, or receive job training for 20 hours per week.
Enrollment has continued to decline under Trump, but the Trump administration has taken welfare reform measures a step further by taking work requirement legislation found in the states nationwide.
Breitbart News reported that the USDA recently finalized a SNAP proposal stating that those who are able-bodied and between the ages of 18-49 and without children or dependents who receive food stamps for more than three months in a 36-month period must work, go to school, receive job training, or volunteer to receive benefits.
The rule does not apply to those who are over 50-years-old, disabled, pregnant, or caretakers for children.
The law allows states to waive out of this time limit requirement due to poor economic conditions, but before the rule was put into place, areas with unemployment as low as 2.5 percent were eligible for waivers, according to the USDA.
The USDA estimates that approximately 755,000 people would discontinue participating in the nation’s food stamp program under the work requirements rule, and the rule would reduce federal spending by $7.9 billion over five years.
The proposal is expected to go into effect on April 1, 2020.