DJ 33 1/3

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Work Requirements Coming For Food Stamps In Florida

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP had 760,315

Miami-Dade residents enrolled in the foodstamps program in July. That’s up from 519,938 in March. SNAP enrollment swelled by 62% in Broward and by 53% in Palm Beach. Statewide, Florida has added over a million new SNAP recipients. No other state has recorded a higher increase.

In March, DCF waived the requirement that SNAP applicants be employed or searching for work, and it has automatically extended food stamp users, but those temporarily lowered barriers to SNAP access could spring back next month. DCF is slated to reimpose both work and recertification requirements after Aug. 31, potentially complicating the ability to get food assistance even as other parts of the pandemic safety net also come to an end. Restricting food stamp access could generate additional demand for overburdened food banks.

In normal circumstances, Florida’s SNAP program requires “able-bodied adults” ages

18 to 49 to show that they’re either spending at least 80 hours per month working, but those rules were suspended in March. Reimposing work requirements could derail Floridians who need food stamps but can’t find work, given the still far-from-recovered jobs landscape. The state’s unemployment rate dropped 11.3%, a higher rate than the national average.

Congress allowed states to give SNAP recipients the maximum benefit based on household size, irrespective of recipients’ actual income levels. DCF has been disbursing maximum benefits to Floridians , though it’s unclear if it will continue in September.

Hunger advocates have welcomed that policy change, maintaining that a further expansion in benefits is warranted, So feeding America is lobbying lawmakers to increase SNAP benefits across the board by 15%.

Photos by Getty Images

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