By: Kaya Deters
Food Stamps, often known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), is a monthly supplement provided by the government to assist low-income people and households to purchase food. SNAP currently provides assistance to 42 million people in the United States. State requirements for food stamps usually include being a state resident and meeting the gross and net income requirements. If a household member is elderly or receives disability payments they do not have to meet gross income requirements to receive SNAP benefits.
The new proposal would require people who receive food stamps or other financial aid to undergo drug testing. Administration officials have stated that the proposal will affect approximately 1 out of 20 food stamp participants. Their aims are to tighten work requirements for food stamp recipients so that only able-bodied adults without dependents would receive SNAP or welfare assistance. Trump Administration is also looking for ways to allow states more flexibility in how they utilize federal programs.
GOP governors argue that greater state control will save money and also reduce the amount of government dependency. Others argue that drug testing food stamp recipients would cost an excessive amount of money and would not benefit state work requirements. A local food stamp recipient who is opposed to the proposal stated, “[It] sounds expensive and doesn’t seem like it would be effective.” Legislators of both parties consider the opioid addiction epidemic one of the most serious problems that our country faces, although both parties do not agree on a solution method, they both agree that the epidemic needs to stop.
The USDA under Trump administration has not yet taken a public position on drug testing for food stamp recipients. Sonny Perdue, the Secretary of Agriculture, has promised to provide states with greater control over SNAP. Perdue’s goal is to provide people with nutrition but also assist them in the transition from government programs back into work and lives of independence.
In recent months the USDA has presented a plan to replace a portion of the SNAP benefits with a pre-assembled food box. This plan would ensure that recipients get the proper nutrients they require while cutting the SNAP program by $213 billion over the next 10 years. This plan was unveiled in Trump Administration’s 2019 budget proposal and it is still very controversial. The number of food stamp recipients has been dropping since 2012 and is predicted to drop lower if the requirements to receive SNAP benefits are tightened.