Over 340-thousand West Virginians use federally funded SNAP benefits to feed their families. In some cases able-bodied adults with no dependents must work or volunteer 20 hours per week, to get their food card. The multi-billion dollar farm bill that just passed Congress was originally intending to increase work requirements to keep SNAP benefits, but instead that idea was dropped.
“You know the waitress, the ski instructor, the rafting guide who gets 25 or 40 hours this week, may not have 20-hours of work next week. And it’s just not okay, and it’s not compatible with real life to take food assistance away from those people for circumstance that are completely beyond their control,” said Seth DiStefano, WV Center on Budget and Policy.
Congress considered making some people over age fifty work, but the current age range from 18 to 49 was kept, and the work hours for SNAP were not increased. It passed with strong bipartisan support.
“A lot of people in West Virginia rely on SNAP for food and nutrition for their families. That will be continued in this bill as well,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, (R) West Virginia.
But last March the State of West Virginia did pass some work requirements for certain SNAP recipients, and those rules are still in place, regardless of what Congress did.
“That if you can’t prove to DHHR that you have 20 hours of consistent unemployment or volunteer or work training a week, you could lose your benefits.” Q: And you guys aren’t in favor of that? “No, that is policy that just does not make sense,” said Seth DiStefano.
People with dependent children have no work requirements.
“This issue is certainly not going away. The West Virginia Legislature is likely to consider proposals to both expand or reduce work requirements for SNAP benefits when lawmakers meet here in January,” said Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.