Thousands in Georgia Suddenly Without Food Aid

So far in 2016, 3,600 people in three Georgia counties alone have found their food assistance cut. A new rule being rolled out across the state declares that those seeking food aid who are both childless and “able-bodied” must be employed before qualifying for assistance.

Georgia isn’t alone in taking draconian steps to clear its food program rosters. Florida, like more than 20 other states, took similar steps this year. Over 300,000 Floridians lost their Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) aid in January. Estimates suggest as many as 1 million will be dropped from the program nationwide this year.

These rules are born from the rhetoric that argues against social safety nets like SNAP. As the reasoning goes, an individual receiving something for free will, regardless of the circumstances, keep taking it.

So it follows, then, that if welfare is done away with, an incentive to work will return for former recipients.

One key supporter of implementing the work rule in Georgia, Republican State Rep. Greg Morris, believes that “anybody who is able-bodied and has the ability to work, should not be on food stamps.”

This sentiment echoes statements by President Bill Clinton who, while sitting next to Speaker Newt Gingrich to sign SNAP reform in 1996, said the intent was to show food aid was “not a way of life.”

On the surface, this might seem reasonable. But the way Clinton’s SNAP reform — and the resumption of its attached work requirement rule — works on the ground is a bit more complicated.

Perhaps this is most evident in Georgia.

Before the new rule, roughly 20 percent of Georgians were receiving food assistance — among the highest rates in the country. In the three counties that have implemented the work requirement, the number of recipients has been cut nearly in half.

Does booting people from SNAP encourage them to find employment? Unfortunately, most states don’t bother to track recipients after they stop getting aid. Here, it may be helpful to look to Georgia again.

In Georgia, millions have been spent on job programs for those removed from SNAP this year. Of these 3,600, just 26 were able to find employment.

Is this because 3,574 Georgians are freeloading deadbeats?

Many classified as able-bodied by Georgia have other obstacles to gaining employment. A lack of education and mental disabilities make landing a job with a sustainable wage — and keeping it — a genuine struggle, regardless of physical fitness.

Some Georgians deemed able-bodied by their counties say they actually aren’t physically able to work, however.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution spoke with Abdul Kately, an Army veteran who says his left elbow was damaged during his service; his other arm, he says, is also weak. Even still, Kately has had his food aid taken away, as his physical status is not considered disabled. He and his wife now rely on food banks.

In a perfect world, welfare programs like SNAP would not be needed. Though there may be abusers of the system, they are, by far, the exception and not the rule.

Removing people from food assistance simply places another burden on those already struggling each day to find a job, keep the lights on and pay rent.

Food banks across the country say they are bracing for ever-increasing lines as hundreds of thousands of Americans lose their food aid. While food aid might not be the silver bullet for those struggling financially, taking it away certainly does favors to no one except states’ treasurers.

Photo Credit: pixelheadphoto / Thinkstock

64 comments

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill2 years ago

With more and more people on food stamps it is getting harder and harder for the government to pay for these programs! States, unlike the federal government, have to keep their budget balanced. They can't run at a deficit! With more on the programs, less revenues are coming in.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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David M.
David M2 years ago

Shame on the administration of Georgia and the other states who did this. They should be forced to see what it's like to be homeless for a while, or until they change their minds.

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william Miller
william Miller2 years ago

the TEA Party way

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Marie W.
Marie W2 years ago

Not just GA. Personal experience most of the SNAP recipients COULD work.

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Jane R.
Jane R2 years ago

I had a friend who was more physically able to lift heavy objects, walk long distances (because she didn't have a car), mentally capable of doing almost any type of work, (unless it involved a computer, but she was capable of learning through job core) yet she was able to fake pain, lied and found a doctor to help her get disability. She'd get medical supplies free (such as special shoes, ensure etc.) and either sold them or gave them away. She was always buying lottery tickets, which I didn't because I had to work for my money. She then taught her cousin ( also physically and mentally well) how to lie and get disability. Guess what she got it also. They both only applied one time and was approved. Why? because of their race. There are many people on disability and food stamps that are capable of working. They may not make a huge amount of money but it would help their self esteem if they cared about that.

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R Wheeler
R Wheeler2 years ago

Oh dear God, where did compassion for the less fortunate go? There is absolutely NO excuse for anyone in the USA to go hungry!

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Tia T.
Tia T2 years ago

Oops, didn't realize my comment was cut short.

Anyway, the young man came in and said he was able to collect disability because he can't read. So, because he chose not to take advantage of his free education now he can't be forced to work a job which would require physical labor. I say good for Georgia. I can't wait to see how this will play out.

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Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran2 years ago

noted

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Tia T.
Tia T2 years ago

Funny to read this article on a Monday morning. Just yesterday I was dreading returning to another long, exhausting week of work. I was thinking of how working everyday and playing catch up around the house on the weekends really leaves no time to have a enjoyable life. I work to survive. I was thinking how it would be so much better if we could go to a four day work week rather than five. Then I began to think about how I wouldn't have to work as much if they didn't take so much in taxes out of my paycheck every payday. After that I thought about how many people come through my doors every week at work who are on welfare or "disability" , (by the way, I work at a gym which makes it even more of a slap in the face) and really are capable of working and really are not disabled. Maybe I should do the same because I am so very tired of working every day since I was a teenager and often feel like I can't keep this pace up. I suffer from scoliosis and early onset arthritis, I am in constant pain. I can see how a person would want to give up and take the easy way out but if we all did it would just make the problem worse and make the burden worse on those of us who try to live the right way and be productive members of society. Eventually, we would become a poor and lazy country because the deadbeats would out number the workers who would not be able to support everybody who didn't want to work. I was appalled when a young man came into my office to and told me he was on disabilit

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