Robert Doar, a poverty scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) wrote an op-ed last Friday that work requirements for food stamps will help “fight poverty at its roots.”
Doar wrote that food stamps, otherwise known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has a fatal flow: “It does not sufficiently emphasize work.”
The AEI scholar said the program often focuses on increasing the number of Americans on food stamps rather than trying to help citizens achieve gainful employment.
I know from my time as New York’s administrator of SNAP that everyone from case managers to administrators has been told that increasing employment is not their job. So SNAP is helpful, but it is not a road out of poverty. One quote from a SNAP enrollee has resonated with me: “That program is great at getting me an EBT card [electronic food stamps benefits] but does nothing to get me a job.”
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway introduced the 2018 Farm bill which, in his words, will “break that cycle of poverty” by introducing work requirements for Americans who receive food stamps. Able-bodied Americans without dependents on SNAP aged between 18 and 59 can fulfill the Farm bill’s proposed work requirement by spending 20 hours a week working, volunteering, receiving education, receiving workforce training, or participating in community service.
Conaway told Breitbart News Saturday in an exclusive interview in May that “This is an opportunity to help people who want to help themselves. Most Americans are very supportive of that idea.”
A survey from the Foundation for Government Accountability revealed that more than 82 percent of Americans, including 94 percent of Republicans and 71 percent of Democrats, support work requirements for food stamp recipients.
Doar explained, “Nearly everyone recognizes that the purpose of antipoverty programs such as SNAP should be to help people get back on their feet, earn their own livelihoods, and stay out of poverty for good.”
Speaker Paul Ryan failed to pass the Farm bill in May after the House Freedom Caucus urged the Republican leadership to put the President Donald J. Trump-endorsed Goodlatte immigration bill before the House floor for a vote. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise then suggested later in May that the House will vote on the Farm bill on June 22 after voting on the Goodlatte immigration bill.
Doar concluded, “Over the years SNAP has reduced hunger for poor Americans, but has been less successful in helping them escape poverty for good. The Farm Bill’s reforms are a good way to help people in need find and retain employment. They are an important step toward realizing SNAP’s proper mission as an antipoverty program.”