Increased work requirements for food stamps affecting several Georgia residents

Sitting on sofa in her apartment, reading to her 1-year-old daughter, Celine Schmall says it wasn't long ago that she...

Posted: Apr 13, 2018 1:08 PM
Updated: Apr 13, 2018 1:08 PM

Sitting on sofa in her apartment, reading to her 1-year-old daughter, Celine Schmall says it wasn't long ago that she didn't know how she could afford to feed her little girl.

The young mother was working, but still needed food stamps.

"People always say [to people on food stamps], 'oh you're lazy or you could be working more hours.'" Schmall told CB46. "Well, the truth is, I'm paying the majority out of pocket just to be able to afford for her to go to daycare, so that I can go to work and make money. It's not always the case that people think behind it," she said about being on government assistance.

With the help of social workers and work programs at Wellspring Living, Celine recently worked her way off the food stamps, earned her GED, and a good job. She is currently in school, and says she still worries about the future of the program for others like her.

This week President Donald Trump signed an executive order calling for more work requirements for people on food stamps.

Currently, there are 1.6 million Georgians on food stamps. There are 170,000 in Fulton County on the program. It all cost the state $2.5 billion last year.

The Division of Family and Children's Services, which issues food stamps, doesn't know how the executive order will impact the Georgia program. They are awaiting guidance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"The step that we need is to figure out what is being asked of us and then to develop a plan to respond to them," said Walter Jones, the spokesperson for the Division of Family and Children Services.

The program requires able bodied adults without dependents to work 80 hours a month or to be in a workfare program in order to qualify. Candidates must not take home more than $1,005 per month in net income.

"The majority of the people who are getting food stamps are not in that category of able -bodied adults without dependents," Jones said. "The majority of those people receiving benefits are single parents with young children, medical condition, or advanced age."

Jones indicated that Georgia could be ahead of other states in implementing more work requirements because it has the SNAP Works program, which, in partnership with Goodwill, helps recipients with job training and positions. The state says this was a proactive approach made years ago to promote employment for those in need of assistance.

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