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More Western New Yorkers will be required to work to receive SNAP benefits

Posted at 11:34 PM, Dec 04, 2019

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — It will soon be harder for people who are unemployed to receive SNAP benefits. The new federal policy makes it tougher for states to wave work requirements for recipients.

The federal government is citing lower unemployment rates as part of the reason for this change. Congressman Tom Reed (R) NY-23, said this is a way to direct money to people who are truly in need.

"With the economy booming after tax cuts and more than a million more jobs than people looking, there is no fair reason an able-bodied person should refuse to work a part-time job to become eligible for taxpayer-funded SNAP benefits," Reed said.

Lauren Picone, the Government Affairs Manager with FeedMore WNY, disagreed. She said the policy will harm the people SNAP is intended to help.

"Putting together these work requirements and enforcing them on individuals does not increase the number of jobs that are available for them," she said. "It does not increase employment in this country, it just makes the people who are suffering suffer more."

Below are the number of SNAP recipients in the Western New York Area, according to Hunger Solutions NY:

  • Erie County- 150,592
  • Niagara County- 30,757
  • Chautauqua County- 24,791
  • Cattaraugus County- 12,048

Erie, Niagara, and Chautauqua County all qualify for the waivers under the current rules that let people receive SNAP benefits even if they were out of work for longer than three months.

Anne McKenna, the Chief Communications Officer with FeedMore WNY, said the new rule will affect the community's effort to feed the hungry.

"Anytime that SNAP benefits are taken away it really impacts the whole community because private charities and organizations like FeedMore WNY can't make up that difference," she said. "For every meal we provide SNAP can provide 12 meals."

The work requirement goes into effect in April.