President Trump, Sen. Kennedy push work requirements for food stamp recipients

Blane Skiles, KSLA
August 2, 2018

Read article as originally published on the KSLA website.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (KSLA) – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, is getting support from the White House in his call to toughen work requirements for food stamp recipients.

In a tweet Thursday afternoon, President Trump called on Congress to include the tightened restrictions in the final version of the farm bill.

The bill authorizes funding for food stamps, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

“I would like to thank President Trump for supporting this important reform to the food stamp program,” Kennedy said in a statement following the tweet. “We need to help people thrive.”

The tweet came one day after Kennedy took to the Senate floor to implore his colleagues to support the measure, which would require able-bodied adults to work at least 20 hours a week as long as they are under age 60 and don’t have a child younger than 6 at home.

The version of the bill that passed the House included the additional work requirements, but it was left out of the Senate’s version.

Members of both chambers are scheduled to begin working out the differences next month.

“Government assistance was designed to be an off-ramp to help people leave poverty in their tracks, but it’s become a parking lot,” Kennedy analogized.

He thinks adding the work requirements will help SNAP recipients rely less on government assistance.

“I don’t want to take food stamps away from people in need. I want fewer people to need food stamps,” Kennedy explained.

“And the best way to do that is to implement a work requirement for food stamps.”

Democrats and some anti-hunger advocacy groups disagree.

Mazon, a Jewish anti-hunger organization, calls the work requirements “harsh and indiscriminate.”

Mazon’s CEO, Abby Leibman, penned an article for Ms. Magazine in April that says the work requirements would harm single mothers.

“While we can all agree that work is essential, burdening already struggling single mothers with the horrible anxiety that their children will go without food because they can’t find work is untenable. And going without is a far too likely scenario, because without childcare, single mothers simply cannot go to work or training or school. Nowhere does the Farm Bill provide for the untold millions of dollars needed to ensure that all working mothers can access affordable quality childcare—the single most vital need for any mother to re-enter the labor force.”


The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan research and policy institute, published a report in March that found work rates are already high among food stamp recipients.

More than half of the families with at least one adult that’s able to work already does work while they receive SNAP benefits, according to the report.

The current farm bill is set to expire at the end of September.