On Wednesday, December 4th, the Trump Administration issued a final rule that limits States ability to “waive able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWD) time limit in areas that have an unemployment rate of over 10 percent or a lack of sufficient jobs.” Currently, ABAWD can only receive SNAP benefits up to 3 months, unless that individual meets certain work requirements. However, States can request that the U.S. Department of Agriculture temporarily waive that time limit if an area has an unemployment rate of over 10 percent or a lack of sufficient jobs. This final rule severely restricts States’ ability to request waivers and will eliminate SNAP benefits for nearly 700,000 unemployed and underemployed adults.
Area waivers are extremely important for protecting food assistance for persons who are seeking but unable to find sufficient work. Last December, Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill, rejecting these same changes to SNAP. These changes seek to deny the basic level of support necessary for people to have adequate access to nutritious food. Members of Congress rightly saw that these changes to the SNAP program were punitive and contrary to the aims of the program.
SNAP is one of our nation’s most effective safety net programs. This rule will weaken SNAP and increase food insecurity. In one of the wealthiest nations in the world, any governmental action that hinders a person’s ability to access nutritious food is unacceptable.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) does not support this attempt to further marginalize people already struggling to put food on their tables. We will continue to advocate against this deeply flawed policy change. Every human being has a fundamental right to sustenance. As a Matthew 25 Church, we are called to “actively engage in the world around us” by eradicating systemic poverty. This means speaking out against policies that will increase food insecurity and push people deeper into poverty.