Statement on the SNAP rule change

December 05, 2019

On Wednesday December 4, the Trump Administration published a final rule that will make it more difficult for some Utahns to maintain their SNAP eligibility. The targeted population are able-bodied adults without dependents, ages 18 through 49, otherwise known as ABAWDs.

Under the existing rule, ABAWDs are only allowed to access benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for 3 out of 36 months unless they are working on average 20 hours per week. However, federal rules currently allow states to waive these work requirements in areas with high unemployment.The final rule drastically changes state flexibility to waive the ABAWD work requirement in response to areas with high unemployment.

This new rule undermines state flexibility and will reduce access to vital nutrition benefits used by the poorest of all SNAP recipients. It fails to recognize the barriers faced by many of the people who will be impacted by this new rule, and does nothing to assist this population in getting and keeping a job. Further it will not create jobs in rural communities where economic development is scarce.

Restricting access to SNAP, a nutrition assistance program, does not make people more employable, arguably it will make them less able to find work because of the consequences of hunger.

This rule also undermines SNAP’s ability to respond to worsening economic conditions. While the economy is strong at the moment a future recession will lead to an increase in SNAP participation. Changes to the current rule will prevent states from waiving areas with rapidly rising unemployment.

This rule change is unnecessary and cruel, and subverts the will of Congress which turned away these changes in the Farm Bill that was passed in 2018.

Utahns Against Hunger will join our colleagues in other states to continue to fight the implementation of these changes that are to go into effect April 1, 2020.