Things could change for Emily Richard, a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipient, under new federal rules set by the Department of Agriculture. She, as well as more than 100,000 people in New York, could lose their SNAP benefits this April.
Currently, a waiver program for areas of high unemployment allows people who do not meet certain work requirements to still receive assistance. The administration says the changes were made to ensure people who could, were working toward economic independence.
Yet, Sherry Tomasky, director of communications for Hunger Solutions, says with hundreds of thousands of cases at stake, this should not be a one size fits all solution.
“There are also people that may have medical or mental disabilities that may not be worthy of certification or getting disability benefits, and [it could] just make it hard for people to maintain consistent work,” Tomasky said.
Richard says she is very worried she may fall into that category.
"[They're] going to take away the only thing I have left, which is my nutrition,” Richard said.
Another possible impact would be added stress on overworked food banks. YWCA Public Communications Director Jamie Crouse says they serve over 20,000 hot meals to residents and when that’s not enough they turn to their in-house food bank.
With the new changes, food banks could struggle to keep up with demand from people trying to fill the void of lost SNAP benefits.
“Anyone who comes once a month to our food pantry receives an emergency food package — which includes nine meals,” Crouse said.
They say to avoid surprises, know your supplemental status.
“The most important thing to know is they really should keep in contact with their county caseworker and understand exactly what they are required to do to keep their SNAP benefits,” Tomasky said.