Nearly 700,000 people will lose food stamps next year, according to a new USDA rule approved by the Trump Administration on Wednesday. Peopleon the front lines of the poverty fight in Syracuse say the new rule will only make things tougher for the working poor.
“I was upset to be quite frank," said Ocesa Keaton, Director of Greater Syracuse H.O.P.E. "It will impact individuals that right now are just trying to make ends meet.”
She says people who work multiple low-wage jobs, and don't have transportation will be hurt the most.
“It’s harmful, and it has devastating impacts on generations and whole communities," said Keaton.
The new rules apply to able-bodied adults without children, ages 18 to 49. They can receive SNAP benefits for a maximum of three months during a three-year period -- unless they’re working.
“Those are the individuals that will be directly attacked by this new regulation," said Keaton.
“With fewer people able to get food stamps, they’ll have to find other places to eat their meals. Keaton says places like food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters might be getting a lot busier.”
“The question we have to ask ourself as a community is ‘do they have the means and the ability to provide that type of services to the possible influx that they may face?'" she said.
The USDA says assistance is not necessary in a strong job market, citing the current national unemployment rate of 3.6 percent. But Keaton says taking away food stamps won't lift people out of poverty.
“It is a condition, it’s not a morality issue," she said. "And if we can’t move past that thought, then we’ll continue making morality policies.”
The USDA says the change will cut food stamp spending by almost $5.5 billion over the next five years. The new rule takes effect on April 1, 2020.