Last week, President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill into law. While he did, he announced a new proposed SNAP rule to be enforced by USDA. This comes after Congress spent two years debating the ins and outs of the Farm Bill and ultimately decided against additional work requirements for SNAP recipients.
The proposed rule will now face a 60 day public comment period where USDA will weigh the merits of the new rule based on public input.
What does the new proposed rule mean for Central Floridians?
Currently, USDA does not allow Able-Bodied Adults without Dependents, or ABAWDs, to use SNAP for more than three months in a 36-month period, unless the individual is working or participating in a work program for at least 20 hours a week, or 80 hours per month.
This means that ABAWDs must work to continue supplementing their income with SNAP. If they do not work within that three month period, they are unable to use SNAP for the next 36 months. In Florida, we currently have 267,000 ABAWDs that work at least 20 hours a week to maintain their eligibility for SNAP.
The state of Florida already follows this rule and we most likely won’t see an immediate effect. However, if the economy takes a downturn, Floridians may have a harder time accessing SNAP, which is a safety net. If unemployment levels do not meet the new proposed level, then ABAWDs in Florida who have a hard time finding a new job during an economic downturn, would not be able to use SNAP beyond three months.
It’s important to note that while it may only affect ABAWDs, it can impact caregivers, grandparents, or young adults. This rule makes it more difficult to put food on the table of those who need it during their time of need.
What other advocacy can we do now?
Over the next several weeks, we’ll make sure to educate advocates on how to make a public comment on the USDA’s proposed work requirement rule. Expect to continue learning how this will impact food insecure Central Floridians.