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DelBene Introduces the SNAP Work Opportunity Act

Last year, more than a half million adults who could not find a job lost their eligibility for nutrition assistance. DelBene’s bill would provide food security for those looking for work.

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Washington, DC, May 25, 2017 | comments

Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01) today introduced the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Work Opportunity Act to ensure those looking for work don’t lose vital nutrition assistance.

“Eliminating nutrition assistance for people trying to find work doesn’t help if jobs are not available,” DelBene said. “The SNAP Work Opportunity Act would protect – not punish – these individuals. By helping people find good-paying, long-term employment in a high-demand industry we can ensure everyone has access to basics like food and shelter.”

Reps. Al Lawson (FL-05) and Barbara Lee (CA-13) are original cosponsors of the SNAP Work Opportunity Act.

“There is no reason to take SNAP benefits away from individuals who, through no fault of their own, cannot find work or a qualified training program,” Lawson said. “The SNAP Work Opportunity Act takes a great step toward ensuring that our government does not punish folks who are trying to find work, and it ensures that they will be able to nourish themselves and their families at a time when they need it the most. As a proud member of the Agriculture Committee, and an enthusiastic thought leader on the Nutrition Subcommittee, I’m proud to serve as an original cosponsor.”

“Food stamps were a bridge over troubled water for me and my family. SNAP benefits help families put food on the table and lift themselves out of poverty,” Lee said. “But right now, arbitrary and onerous work requirements punish workers who cannot find a job through no fault of their own. I am proud to cosponsor the SNAP Work Opportunity Act and will keep working to ensure that SNAP is preserved as a basic living standard for all.”

Currently, adults without dependents can receive no more than three months of nutrition assistance within three years if they are not in an employment training or workfare program or working at least 20 hours a week. But states do not have to offer their unemployed citizens an opportunity to participate in a job training or workfare program. The SNAP Work Opportunity Act would simply apply the three-month limit for eligibility only if a person who could not find a job was offered a training or workfare opportunity. The fix ensures those who are looking for work will no longer be penalized because their state doesn’t offer job training or a work program.

In 2016, more than a half million adults who could not find a job lost their eligibility for benefits, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. Only five states – Colorado, Delaware, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin – guaranteed a spot to those adults subject to the three-month limit.

This week, President Trump released his budget, which guts nutrition assistance programs by $193 billion. DelBene said that budget would take America in the wrong direction rather than helping families make ends meet through basic assistance with things like food.

DelBene has tirelessly worked on nutrition issues since joining Congress. She helped shepherd passage of the 2014 Farm Bill by serving on the conference committee. Using criteria from Washington’s successful Basic Food Employment and Training (BFET) program, DelBene included $200 million for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) competitive grant pilot programs to expand job-training opportunities for recipients of federal nutrition assistance in 10 states – including Washington. She has also cosponsored the Stop Child Summer Hunger Act to provide families with nutrition assistance during the summer.

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