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Changing SNAP requirements will impact thousands of Hoosiers

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The state says the economy has improved so much that the Family and Social Services Administration is reinstating a federal requirement to receive SNAP benefits, also known as food stamps.

“The entire purpose of this is to get people focused on getting back to work and get them off of public assistance,” said Marni Lemons, the Deputy Director of FSSA.

The requirement is that able-bodied adults must now work, or be in work training to receive the benefits. The requirement was suspended during the recession.

The state currently has an unemployment rate of 4.5%.

The requirement came from a 1996 federal law requiring those who get food stamps to work, or be enrolled in the state’s free work training program for 20 hours a week. The requirement is only for able-bodied adults between 18 and 49-years-old who don’t have children.

“If you sign up for and participate in the work training, you continue to receive your SNAP benefits,” said Lemons.

The requirement went back into effect Thursday, impacting 18,000 Hoosiers.

The state’s food banks were notified, and they’re preparing.

“No matter what the need we will be ready,” said Kathy Hahn Keiner, the Chief Programs & Agency Relations Officer for Gleaners.

Gleaners works with food banks and pantries around the state to get food to those who need it. And they say with the change, and the time of year, they could be stretched thin.

“We’re going to see an increase anyway because of the season that we’re in. Children will be out of school soon for a long winter break, so we’re going to be ready no matter what the situation is,” said Keiner.

Despite the low unemployment numbers, she says they’re still seeing people who need help.

“We’re not in a position to say what the economy is able or able not to do, but what we are seeing is people still coming to our food pantries, the line is not decreasing,” said Keiner.

If people fail to comply with the requirements for any three months within three years they will lose their benefits.

The reinstatement doesn’t impact people with children, or disabilities, or seniors.

Letters have been sent to those who will be impacted, telling them about the change and the training. The training includes resume help, and how to start searching for a job.