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300,000 Floridians Could Lose Food Stamps as State Restores Work Obligations and Time Limits

| April 6, 2016

food stamps eligibility

If you have them. (Thomas Hawk)

About 300,000 Floridians who qualified for food stamps now face a work requirement that went into effect Jan. 1 — and the possibility of at least temporarily losing benefits if they don’t meet the guidelines.


As of the first of the year, able-bodied, childless adults ages 18 to 49 were required to work, get job training or volunteer 20 hours a week to receive food stamps through what is formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Otherwise, they’re limited to three months of food assistance in each 36-month period.

Similar requirements also took effect in 21 other states. Gov. Rick Scott’s administration pointed to job opportunities in the state, but Sen. Bill Montford, a Tallahassee Democrat who represents a massive swath of rural communities, said food-stamp beneficiaries can’t find work in some areas.

“Especially in North Florida, in these rural counties that I represent, they have not felt this economic revival that people talk about,” Montford said. “Unemployment is still high. The jobs are not there. … The needs the SNAP program meets, I would say the needs in these rural counties are just as great as they were in 2009.”

The work requirement dates back to a 1996 welfare overhaul–co-sponsored at the time by John Kasich and signed into law by Bill Clinton–but the federal government waived it in 2009 during the economic recession. Now, after unemployment rates have dropped, states are resuming the use of the work requirement.

The left-leaning Center for Budget and Policy Priorities said 21 Florida counties have jobless rates high enough and sustained enough to qualify for an exemption from the work mandate from the federal government.

“A few Southeastern states are electing to re-implement the time limit statewide even though some or all of the state qualifies for a waiver,” the center reported last month, noting that 500,000 to 1 million people will lose their food stamps in 2016. “Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi and North Carolina will be particularly hard hit.”

Scott’s administration sees a brighter picture because of the economy, and people will be able to continue receiving food stamps if they meet the work requirements.


The 1996 welfare reform law written by John Kasich and signed by Bill Clinton comes back to bite Floridians.


Department of Children and Families spokeswoman Michelle Glady said in an email that the state’s unemployment rate is at an eight-year low of 4.9 percent.

“No Floridian currently receiving benefits will lose their eligibility,” Glady said. “However, they must meet minimum federal requirements for work, volunteering or active job search activities.”

Department of Economic Opportunity spokeswoman Morgan McCord echoed Glady and also said the state is trying to help people meet the requirements.

“In every county around the state, Florida’s CareerSource centers are working to help beneficiaries meet those requirements,” McCord wrote in an email. “Since January 1, 2016, 106,129 people have been placed into new jobs by the state’s 24 CareerSource locations.”

But others, such as Montford, say the state is diverse, and economic conditions vary.

For instance, in the district of Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, people have been coming to his office for help after losing their food-stamp benefits. He said many are working, but their low-wage jobs don’t add up to 20 hours a week.

“They’re being penalized even though they’re trying, even though their effort is good,” Bullard said.

What’s more, tens of thousands of Floridians were sanctioned for not complying with the mandate in the first month.

“If you don’t comply, what will happen is that you will immediately be sanctioned and lose your food stamps, even though you haven’t yet used up your three-month time limit,” said Cindy Huddleston of Florida Legal Services.

In January, 67,982 Floridians were sanctioned for not meeting the work requirement, thereby losing their food stamps “for a minimum of one month or until they comply with the work requirement, whichever is longer,” according to a letter sent to beneficiaries by the state. For a second act of noncompliance, the penalty is the loss of benefits for at least three months.

“By the nature of the work requirements and the exemptions and exceptions to the work requirements, it’s really mostly affecting the most vulnerable people that don’t have any other social safety net in place,” said Liam McGivern of Legal Services of Greater Miami.

Food-stamp benefits are typically worth $150 to $170 per month. The potential loss of benefits does not apply to people who have children or disabilities or to seniors.

The Department of Children and Families could ask the federal government to waive the work mandate. But a budget bill passed during a special legislative session last June would require the department to get legislative authority before applying for such a waiver.

“I would certainly encourage DCF to approach the Legislature, get permission, and request another waiver,” Montford said.

Debra Susie, executive director of Florida Impact, which works to reduce hunger and poverty, said the group is also concerned about what will happen to food banks and other non-profits that were already stretched thin by the recession.

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15 Responses for “300,000 Floridians Could Lose Food Stamps as State Restores Work Obligations and Time Limits”

  1. Carol says:

    They’ve been doing this up North for years & I agree with the program. At the time it went into effect up North, I was a single mom with 2 kids & I had no choice but to go to school to learn a trade or get a job, otherwise I would have lost my benefits.

  2. Outsider says:

    Can anyone explain why when we supposedly have all these people who can’t find jobs, the federal government has implemented a “surge” program to get Syrian refugees, many with little or no skills, into this country in a shortened time frame? We have people who apparently can’t afford to eat, yet we are doing this. With massive deficits, a soon to explode debt crisis, and millions who can’t find enough work to feed themselves, we are importing more poor people.

    First Syrians leave for U.S. under surge resettlement program.

    http://krqe.com/2016/04/06/first-syrians-leave-for-us-under-surge-resettlement-program/

  3. Mark says:

    Because our politicians are more interested in being reelected than helping people find work. The more illegal immigrants and refugees the more votes for dimocRATs.

  4. Concerned says:

    Instead of aiding all these countries, they should provide food for all Americans, so no one ever goes hungry. Our country is upside down.

  5. r&r says:

    Why do the Spanish guys do all the landscaping lawn care? I think it’s because our people are too lazy and are compincated government hand outs. Hopfuly this will get them off their buts and force them to find a job.

  6. Fredrick says:

    It’s about time. Life is not always fair and helping people in need is the right thing to do, but people have to be willing to take responsibility for themselves.

  7. Marvelous says:

    The article seems to overly focus on the search for job opportunities but does not mention the many places a non-disabled 18-49 year old can volunteer to meet the requirement if they can’t find a job or do job search related activities. How can anyone be upset about a no -disabled 18-49 year old with no dependent needing to volunteer, get a job, or search for a job in order to be paid benefits.

  8. maggie says:

    Easy, Outsider–they want to flood this country with as many unskilled laborers as possible, so that when they finally manage to dislodge the Constitution from its legal underpinning of sovereignty (see the TPP), they’ll have that many more “free trade” slaves to work for 60 cents an hour.

    Don’t think that won’t happen–under EITHER ‘front runner’ for POTUS, they support the TPP. Your only choices at the top of the ticket for those who oppose such onerous “agreements” are Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. And even Trump is doubtful, because he can be bought. Sanders can’t.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Why the HELL does anyone 18-26 get food stamps?? they are KIDS at least as far as Ds are concerned remember they can stay on Mommy N Daddy’s health care till 26.

  10. Layla says:

    The program has been badly abused and that hurts us all, most especially those who need them and cannot work. But there won’t be any money for any food stamps if we don’t step things up a bit. We need to help our friends and neighbors more than we have been. This country used to be known for that.

    We cannot continue to take the world’s immigrants and support them. It is just not possible. They are being brought in and the jobs are going. Very bad recipe for disaster.

  11. Outsider says:

    Mark and Maggie, I fully understand what’s going on here; I was looking for a response from someone on the left. I was hoping for, but not expecting a response other than “it’s the right thing to do,” or “it makes me feel good.” Nonetheless, you both nailed it; they are trying, and succeeding at turning our country over to people who would otherwise have no right to it. They are turning the country over to people who don’t have decades of work invested in it, but will vote themselves the benefits of that work at others’, including my expense. They are guaranteeing themselves power, and their subjects continued dependence on the government. The people who support this don’t even understand our dire fiscal situation. They don’t know that we currently have a 20 trillion dollar national debt. They couldn’t possibly fathom what the 5.5 trillion dollar intragovernmental debt means to those who paid into the programs they are robbing. They don’t know that on the public debt owned by Americans and foreigners, we currently pay an average of 2.45% interest. The problem is, most of that recently incurred debt is being financed at very short term, very low interest rates. When inflation picks up, those rates will have to rise above inflation to attract “investors,” and the interest on debt payments will skyrocket above the current $420 billion; it could easily go above a trillion. None of this will happen until at least the next president is elected, so the ignorant will be able to point to how great things were under Obama, and how terrible things will get after he leaves. This is why the fed keeps stalling on raising rates; to preserve Obama’s legacy and help the Democratic candidate who promises to continue this greatness when he or she is elected. This is why they continue the contradiction that the economy is doing great, but it’s so bad we can’t raise interest rates. This whole policy is creating yet another bubble in stocks and real estate. The bad news is, every bubble bursts, and yet, Obama brags that he has cut the deficit down to only half a trillion dollars, and there is no forecast that shows that deficit shrinking much more. And still, we import more and more people with no skills to put them on the dole. I can assure you, none of the people who tell us it’s the right thing to do while we have millions of unemployed Americans will have the slightest clue or care as to what I’m talking about; they will just continue to feel good.

  12. r&r says:

    Another spin on thie subject is the protests in states for a $15.00 minimum wage are now protesting to have the hours of work cut in half because the extra money will reduce their goverment handouts. What a bunch of muchers and dead beats.

  13. Sherry says:

    The comments here are nothing short of despicable! May each of you reap upon yourselves the hate that you are displaying for other human beings! What goes around come around!

  14. Grocery Store Empployee says:

    I work at a grocery store and see this issue all the time. Here are some things I’ve seen…….ANYONE that is half decent at best can get a job bagging groceries somewhere. People don’t take the job, and they will tell you on the spot, “I make more with food stamps then if I worked here.”
    Second, there should be limits on what people can buy and be regulated by the state such as WIC program. Food stamp users should NOT be able to buy steaks, crab legs, shrimp, energy drinks,soda and other “luxury” items if you will. These people are hard up for money ( or so they say ), they should be buying ground beef, chicken, bread, soups, veggies and so on…not the finer things in life.
    And the worst one ive seen is someone get cash back on a SNAP card by buying a candy bar and walking into an internet casino….WTF????

  15. TiredofExcuses says:

    Single mom with two kids and no choice. That’s how this all begins. Already in trouble financially with one kid so go ahead and have another, great choice right?
    A lot people just do everything backwards. It’s really all about the choices we make every step of the way. The beat goes on… smh

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