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Thousands Could Lose Food Stamp Benefits In New York

ROCHESTER, NY (WXXI) - Anti-hunger advocates are slamming the Trump administration's new rules that tightens the work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, also known as food stamps.

Community advocacy specialist for Foodlink, Tom Silva, says the rules that have been in effect since the late 1990s state that able-bodied adults without dependents age 18 to 49 have to work at least 20 hours a week or be in a certified job training program to receive SNAP benefits for more than three months over a three year period of time. States have the option of requesting a waiver for those rules, but the new rules would make getting a waiver more difficult.

“What this rule change is doing is changing the ways that states and individual metropolitan areas in a state can apply for waivers to those requirements, based upon their local job market performing worse than the national job market," he said.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue says the rule changes will help move people “from welfare to work,” but Silva disagrees. He says Wisconsin has already tried similar rules and the number of people entering the labor force didn't increase significantly.

Benefits would be cut to roughly 688,000 recipients nationwide, and Silva says benefits for thousands of New Yorkers would also be in jeopardy.

“The conservative estimate right now is that at least 2,200 people in Monroe County would be affected by this,” Silva said. “Estimates are going up to 100,000 people statewide.  And really the emergency food network just does not have the capacity to take on that many more people at a time.”

Silva says he expects legal challenges to the new rules.