Kentucky GOP Gov. Matt Bevin must feel really good taking away food from tens of thousands Kentuckians with the holidays coming up as the state's new Dickensian work requirements kick in and nearly 20% of the state's neediest households have now been thrown off SNAP food benefits.
More than 10,000 Kentuckians have lost food assistance in the state in the last several months because of a work requirement affecting some people who are part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program commonly referred to as SNAP.
That’s according to an analysis by representatives of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy and the consumer advocacy group Kentucky Voices for Healthwho have been looking at how the work requirement is affecting participation in SNAP this year in Kentucky.
SNAP is a federal program that helps low-income individuals and families buy food, such as meat, fruits and vegetables. It also can be used to purchase seeds and plants to grow food.
In recent years, the state has been reinstating a three-month time limit on how long adults, ages 18-49, without a disability or dependents could receive benefits without working about 20 hours a week, according to policy analysts Dustin Pugel and Jason Dunn. The bulk of the counties were brought on board earlier this year, from February to May.
The result, according to the co-authors, is 10,097 individuals out of a potential 54,000 losing their benefits between May and September. And only 34 people had re-entered the program as of September, according to the analysis, which relies on data from the state.
The loss of benefits is concerning, Pugel said, because that’s “a lot of folks who are no longer getting help buying groceries.”
Although SNAP only covers a small portion of participants’ food budgets, “it’s very important, not only to the folks who use it but to local economies,” Pugel said in an interview.
Dunn noted the vulnerability of the recipients: “By being eligible for SNAP benefits, these individuals’ income is less than 133 percent of poverty, and since they’re working less than 20 hours per week, they’ll be at the lower end of that scale,” he noted by email. “Loss of these benefits will increase their food insecurity, which numerous studies have shown increases negative health outcomes.”
The state's chilling answer:
The state Cabinet for Health and Family Services takes issue with the term “loss,” noting, “No one loses access to SNAP benefits, although some beneficiaries may choose not to comply, or cannot comply because they are already working but not reporting income.”
No work, no eat, get a job loser. Doesn't matter if not being able to get healthy food makes you more likely to be sick and lose that job, but who cares.
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Happy Thanksgiving from Bevinstan, ya'll.