New rule requires SNAP benefit recipients to work

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Thousands of people in the Mid-South may lose their SNAP benefits if they don't have a job.

Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas are among more than 20 states which now require food stamp recipients to work in order to stay in the program.

Some people WREG talked to were not happy about the change.

"What are we going to do?"

That was the general question posed by William Allen's friends and family when they found out their food stamps could disappear.

"People got to eat. A lot of people don't have jobs. A lot of people can't get jobs, so I think that's a bad thing for them," said Allen.

A federal waiver expired which allowed several states to give SNAP benefits to people who are unemployed.

As of January 1, all able-bodied adults who do not have dependents must meet a work requirement.

The Arkansas Department of Human Services said the rules requires anyone between the ages of 18 and 49 to work 20 hours a week or be in a job training program.

If they don't do that, they can only receive benefits for three months in any 3-year period.

The Mid-South Food Bank said this change could mean they will be seeing more people coming through their doors to find food.

"These food pantries that we work with are going to see more people coming to get food assistance because if they don't qualify for SNAP benefits, they're not going to qualify for other government benefits. They have nowhere else to turn when they don't have food in the house," said one representative from the food bank.

The change doesn't affect those with dependents, seniors or those on disability.