Beware of New Food-Stamp Requirements

Adults between 18-49 years old enrolled in the SNAP/Food Stamp program who are considered able-bodied without dependents will be limited to three months of SNAP benefits in a 3-year period as of June 1.

However, these recipients can retain their current benefits if they fulfill a work requirement, complete required volunteer hours or qualify for an exemption, according to Act Against Hunger, a local Jewish communal initiative of the MAZON Advocacy Project and the synagogues of the Old York Road Corridor in Montgomery County.

This change in the program will affect residents in Montgomery, Chester, and Bucks counties who rely on SNAP as a critical lifeline. Philadelphia and Delaware County residents are exempt because the unemployment rates in these counties are high.

“Despite lower employment, people still are having a hard time finding work,” said Act Against Hunger co-chair Robin Rifkin.

Losing SNAP benefits when someone is already struggling is like pulling out the rug from under them. Our goal is to get the word out so that people know and have time to find more work, or a place to volunteer, or show they qualify for an exemption to keep their SNAP benefits.

To meet the work requirement, one would need to prove they are working or participating in a job training program for at least 20 hours/week; or volunteering 26 hours/month. Reasons someone can be exempt from the work requirement include: enrolled part-time in school; applying for or receiving unemployment; receiving disability benefits; enrolled in a drug, alcohol treatment or mental health program; homeless; has a medical condition that prevents someone from working; pregnant; or caring for a disabled family member.

If you are a resident of Montgomery County or from an organization that can provide volunteer opportunities, contact Kara Beck, SNAP outreach coordinator at Montgomery County‚Äôs Community Action Development Commission (CADCOM), at [email protected] or 610 277-6363 x140.

Act Against Hunger has been working with local anti-hunger groups, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, and the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services to reduce the barriers to SNAP, the federal program designed to provide nutrition assistance to low-income individuals and families and ease the burden of poverty in communities.

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services is sending a survey to those who may be affected by this change, according to AAH, which is calling on recipients to complete it.