Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester says proposed changes to SNAP work requirements makes it harder for Delaware families to get food stamps.
About 150,000 Delawareans get help buying food through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Nearly 2,000 Delawareans who work for minimum wage also get food stamps.
U.S. House Republicans want SNAP participants under 60 who don’t have children or a disability to work at least 20 hours a week. Seniors, the disabled and parents with children under six years old would be exempt from the change.
Blunt Rochester blasts their proposal increasing the penalty period for not meeting work requirements from a month to a year. She says families are commonly penalized due to paperwork problems, address changes or a lack of transportation.
“Another thing is many families - depending on the type of job you have, may have irregular schedules," she said. "Those schedules might not coincide with the hours that offices are open.”
The changes could cause about million Americans to lose food benefits. The legislation could also cut $20 billion in benefits.
Blunt Rochester worries that the first time a recipient faces a cut in hours or a sick child could mean families are denied benefits for a full 12 months.
“An individual who may be a single mom and you don’t have access to paid family leave, you could be in a situation where your benefits are completely cut off,” she said.
Blunt Rochester says the bill also cuts investments in workforce training while mandating states expand their programs.
Delaware is one of 10 states that currently run federal pilot programs giving SNAP recipients a customized path to employment. The program helps people facing challenges to re-entering the workforce like a lack of child care or healthcare.