Rep. Tom Reed and the House of Representatives will consider a bill to reauthorize the food stamp program and address inadequacies in the current system, including one reform Reed continues to be a strong advocate for: engaging able-bodied adults without dependents in work and job training activities.
"While feeding the hungry is one important way we care for our neighbors, we should not be blind to fraud and abuse in the program," Reed said. "Our goal is to give integrity to food assistance programs, refocus the program to care for those who need it and give individuals the tools they need to help themselves and their families."
One foundational problem, Reed said, is a lack of work requirement in connection with receiving food stamp benefits. Before 2009, rules were in place that required able-bodied adults without children to be engaged in work or job training in order to qualify for food stamps. That work requirement has since been waived in 47 states, including New York.
Reed said the solution lies in reforms in the House bill that help recipients better themselves with job skills.
"An open-ended benefit with no requirement for work or job training fails to give recipients the tools they need to become self-sufficient and comes at the expense of hardworking taxpayers who are paying higher taxes to support a program that has more than doubled since 2008," Reed continued. "Those engaged in work activities take positive steps to break the welfare cycle and become financially independent."
Under the House bill, all recipients who meet income and asset tests and are willing to comply with work requirements will continue to receive benefits.
"Reforming the program is fair to taxpayers, better cares for recipients and ensures those who need the program have access to benefits," Reed said. "Those who truly care about low-income individuals and families want to help them out of poverty and become financially self-sufficient, not trap them in an unfair system."
The House is expected to vote on a nutrition title this week that reforms the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a program that has not seen any reforms since 1996. The Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act is the corresponding food stamp portion to the five-year Farm Bill passed through the House in July.