A new food stamp policy could affect over 2500 people in Central Illinois counties and over 140,000 people in Illinois. The Trump administration announced new rules that would take able-bodied people off of the food stamp program called SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). Meghan Powers, Director of Communications with the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) released a statement denouncing the move.
“Our administration has adamantly opposed the federal rule change to SNAP policy that would require work requirements from approximately 140,000 low-income individuals in Illinois and hundreds of thousan ds more across the country. Many SNAP participants face serious barriers to employment, such as mental illnesses, substance use disorders, justice involvement and significant physical limitations, and would not be able to immediately meet the work requirements. IDHS has been working for months to appropriately exempt any individuals with these barriers so they do not need to meet the work requirements. However, we also recognize that some of our customers can and want to work. To that end, IDHS has also engaged in a robust effort to prepare for this rule chage so we can help as many SNAP participants as possible find employment and training that would meet the work requirement.”
Illinois, in general, has worked hard on ways to implement several new initiatives and expand employment programs. Specialty teams have been established that work solely with able-bodied customers to help them with work or training. An interagency team was established with the Illinois Departments of Employment Security and Economic Opportunity and the Illinois Community College Board to develop robust referral resources for work. Funding services were provided for transportation, uniforms, professional licenses and other work-related needs were provided. IDHS continues to work with the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities to analyze the new rules.
In Central Illinois, 625 people in Christian, 214 in Shelby, 495 in Montgomery, 310 in Fayette, and 674 people in Macoupin County could lose benefits.