Numbers of food stamp recipients drop in Arkansas
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The number of Arkansas residents participating in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has decreased by nearly 25,000 since new federal requirements were imposed in January.
The state began enforcing requirements that limit the food stamp program to three months for able-bodied, childless adults ages 18 to 49, unless they're in school or participating in volunteer or job-training programs.
The Arkansas Department of Human Services shut off the benefits to about 9,000 people by April 1, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/2hzNkQu ) reported. A department spokesman said about 15,000 more people lost the benefits or became ineligible for them between April and November.
A study from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington D.C.-based think tank, showed 418,000 Arkansas residents participated in the program as of April. About 773,000 fewer individuals used SNAP in April than in March nationwide, "the largest one-month drop since temporary disaster benefits for Hurricane Katrina victims ended in 2005," according to the study.
Qualified participants of SNAP can keep their benefits after the three-month period by committing 20 hours a week to finding employment. While the DHS has said many Arkansas counties still qualify for requirement-related waivers based on their unemployment rate, Gov. Asa Hutchinson declined to offer the waivers.
"It's personal accountability," Hutchinson spokesman J.R. Davis said. "If you're receiving these SNAP benefits, you can continue to receive those SNAP benefits, but you have to work if you're between 18 and 49 — that's a conservative philosophy that the governor believes."
Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com