Food Stamp Enrollments Down in 46 Out of 50 States

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U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr

Food stamp enrollment went down over the past year in 46 out of 50 states, according to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) statistics on food stamp enrollment.

The states of Connecticut, North Carolina, and the District of Columbia saw the biggest drops in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) enrollment.

Connecticut saw the largest drop, with SNAP enrollment dropping 25.4 percent from May 2016 to May 2017.

The state also saw a pretty hefty drop in enrollment over one month — Connecticut’s enrollment in the food stamp program dropped 14.2 percent from April 2017 to May 2017.

North Carolina saw the second-largest decrease in SNAP enrollment with a 14.2 drop in the number of state residents participating in the food stamp program.

The District of Columbia rounded out the top three states reporting the biggest decline in SNAP enrollment, showing a 9.3 drop in SNAP participation among D.C. residents.

The reason for this substantial drop in SNAP enrollment in Connecticut stems from an economic boom in 87 towns experiencing low unemployment rates as of April 1, 2016, the CT Mirror reports.

The economic boom in these towns no longer made them eligible as of April 1, 2016, for a waiver from SNAP regulations. These regulations were put in place nationwide before the recession and require able-bodied adults without children to work at least 20 hours week, enroll in school, or take part in state-approved job training if they receive benefits for more than three months.

The 2009 stimulus bill implemented during the recession allowed states to apply for waivers from these regulations.

As a result, able-bodied adults without children could no longer receive benefits unless they adhered to the new regulations.

North Carolina’s SNAP waiver was also set to expire in 2016, but the state ended waivers from these regulations statewide before the federal government’s deadline.

The Charlotte Observer reports that the state ended the waiver in 23 urban counties January 1, 2016, and in the rest of North Carolina’s 77 counties by July 1 of that year.

The District of Columbia, however, is one of the few places that still receive waivers statewide. However, the territory has experienced declining unemployment over the past two years, with the unemployment rate in D.C. hovering around 6.2 percent as of June 2017.

D.C. has also implemented a “Pathways to Work” job-readiness program in April 2017 to help those in the poorer areas of D.C. to find work.

The only four states that did not see declines in food stamp enrollment are Alaska, Kentucky, Montana, and Illinois. Each of those states reported slight gains in SNAP enrollment. Alaska saw the biggest increase in food stamp enrollment, with SNAP participation increasing by 4.1 percent. Illinois saw the second-largest increase in SNAP enrollment at 3.4 percent, and Montana reported an increase of 3 percent.

All of those states participate in the waiver program either statewide or in certain towns because of chronic unemployment in those areas.

Nationwide, food stamp enrollment has been on the downswing. Food stamp use in the U.S. fell to its lowest level in seven years, and 1.1 million Americans dropped off the food stamp rolls since President Trump took office.


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