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April 14, 2015

States Tightening Food-Stamps Rules as Economy Recovers

Food pantries are anticipating a jump in client counts as the improving economy prompts states to tighten conditions for people to get federal nutrition assistance, writes The New York Times.

Several states are reimposing time limits on food stamps that were waived during the recession, moves advocates say will strip benefits from a million so-called "Abawds" — able-bodied adults without minor dependents — ages 18 to 49.

During the recession most states took advantage of waivers enacted to help healthy but jobless adults get food stamps beyond legal time limits. Eight states that qualified for the waivers this year elected to use them only in certain areas or not at all. Maine restricted benefits to three months in a given three-year period unless the recipient worked 20 hours a week, volunteered for six hours a week, or took state job-training courses. It has seen the number of Abawds getting food stamps drop from 12,000 to 2,530.

Anti-poverty and anti-hunger advocates say many of those hit by the policy changes have limited education and are suffering in a still-tight postrecession job market. "There's going to be harm, and it's going to show up in greater hunger," said Ellen Vollinger, the legal and food-stamp director for the Food Research and Action Center.