Thousands of Arkansans could lose SNAP benefits

Thousands of Arkansans could lose SNAP benefits

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Thousands of Arkansans could see a cut in their SNAP benefits.

Starting Jan. 1, the work requirements to receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, changed.

According to the Department of Human Services, the change is known as the able-bodied rule.

This rule says anyone between the ages of 18 and 49 without a dependent must be working 20 hours a week or in a work training program to receive SNAP benefits after three months.

Those exempt from the rule are seniors, those with disabilities or those with children.

The rule went in to affect because Arkansas' unemployment rate decreased.

According to DHS Director of Communications Amy Webb, Arkansas qualified for a waiver of the able-bodied rule during the recession, but now that the economy has improved, the rule has been re-instated.

Webb said this could affect around 25,000 to 30,000 people in Arkansas.

There are separate waivers for the rule that counties can receive, but Governor Asa Hutchinson chose not to seek these individual county waivers.

Region 8 News spoke with the Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas to see if these new requirements would affect them.

Director of Development Vicki Pillow said they might see some affects from this.

"While the Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas does not directly work with SNAP benefits, we realize that any cut could mean that we see more individuals needing emergency food assistance in our service area," Pillow said.

Arkansas is one of 23 states seeing this change in SNAP benefits.

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