Mississippi is the latest state to reinstitute minimum work requirements for those who wish to qualify for their food stamp program. Beginning today, residents must work or volunteer at least 20 hours per week in order to remain eligible for food stamps. The Magnolia State is among dozens this year that have turned back the clock on liberal welfare eligibility requirements, and have made working a mandatory criterion for those seeking assistance. In the wake of the global recession, President Obama engineered a waiver, through the Department of Agriculture, that essentially eliminated any work-for-welfare requirements, and basically provided people with the opportunity to receive welfare indefinitely.
The trend away from the Obama changes began with Kansas, back in 2013, when the state uncovered widespread fraud and abuse in its food stamp program. Since then, over 20,000 Kansas residents have moved off of food stamps, and their income has risen almost 130 percent.
In Maine, that state tightened up its food stamp eligibility requirements largely on the basis of what was eventually uncovered when a state employee happened to recognize the name of one of Maine’s lottery winners – a subsequent investigation revealed that 4,000 state residents receiving welfare had won over $22 million in the lottery. The real culprit, it turns out, is that Maine had no asset test for determining welfare eligibility, something which has since changed under Governor Paul LePage. 44 states now have some type of work requirement for food stamp eligibility, with half of those states making the change just this year.
By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large