More than 18,300 Indiana residents lost their food stamps this month because they did not meet the new state work or education requirement.
In May, Indiana notified about 48,000 residents that they needed to spend at least 20 hours per week either working or taking classes if they wanted to keep receiving free benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). A volunteer option is also available for certain certified groups.
“Ultimately, the individual is going to have to get a job,” said David Smalley, head of Indiana’s SNAP program, according to the Journal Gazette.
Any able-bodied adult between the age of 18 and 49 must adhere to the mandatory work hours in order to get the handout.
The new law went into effect in July and gave residents three months to get their act together. If they didn’t comply within the time allotted, they’d lose their benefits.
18,333 people lost their food stamp benefits at the start of November.
“We’ve really worked to be proactive,” said Marni Lemons, spokesman for the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration. “There is some misinformation out there that we are taking food away from kids who are going hungry.”
After being notified of the work-for-welfare requirement, each person received a complimentary orientation appointment to help them find work with the Indiana Manpower Placement and Comprehensive Training (IMPACT) program. Hardly anyone showed up.
Jim Morris is the director of IMPACT and said that only 13.6 percent of people went to their appointment. That’s actually above the national average of 12 percent.
“It shocks me,” Morris said. “If I’m getting a benefit I’m going. No questions asked.”
IMPACT even went through the trouble of trying to reschedule appointments.