Apr 10, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump admin pauses effort to raise work requirements for food stamps

In this image, a masked woman handles grocery bags

Volunteers at the Food Resource Center on April 10 in Livingston, Montana. Photo: William Campbell/Corbis via Getty Images

The Trump administration has decided to pause efforts to increase work requirements for some Americans receiving food stamps, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the New York Times reports.

What's happening: Nearly 10 million Americans have filed for unemployment in recent weeks. Meanwhile, demand is surging for food banks across the U.S., as those who rely on food stamps to buy essentials are largely unable to stock up on food and medication amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the Washington Post reports.

Catch up quick: The Agriculture Department, which faced a lawsuit from 14 states, New York City and Washington, D.C. over its plan to limit SNAP access for non-disabled adults without children, previously planned to appeal a judge's ruling that stopped the new requirements.

What they're saying: “People need food and that’s what USDA does,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told the Times in a statement this week.

  • The department plans to “comply with the legislation which really pauses that during this public health emergency," Purdue told the Times, indicating that the agency does not currently plan to appeal the judge's ruling.
  • “While we, in a normal situation, were moving in a way to enforce what the common thinking was regarding food supply, we are going to be as flexible as we can,” Perdue told the Times.

Background: The proposed rule, which gives non-disabled adults without children access to food stamps for three months within a three-year period before they have to work, would cut benefits for 688,000–850,000 unemployed people, the Washington Post reported in earlier this year.

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