Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Food Stamp Loss Expected To Hit Poor Illinoisans

Hundreds of thousands of able-bodied Food Stamp beneficiaries across the nation are expected to lose that assistance in April.
Nathan Forget
Flickr (BY-CC 2.0)
Hundreds of thousands of able-bodied Food Stamp beneficiaries across the nation are expected to lose that assistance in April.

Likely more than 100,000 Illinoisans will lose food stamps under a rule change finalized by President Donald’s Trump administration this week. 

The changes to food stamps, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), make it tougher for states to waive work and time limit requirements for able-bodied adults to get the benefit.  The federal decision takes effect in April.

“The ruling by the Trump administration to slash access to nutrition assistance this week is just yet another devastating blow for individuals trying to put food on the table,” Melissa Young, director of national initiatives for the Chicago-based Heartland Alliance, said. “This rule will absolutely hit those who have historically been — and to continue to be — marginalized, left out and denied opportunity.”

But Jonathan Ingram, an Illinois-based policy analyst at the conservative Foundation for Government Accountability, says the change will benefit both the economy and the individual. “The president has clearly delivered one of the biggest welfare reforms in a generation, moving more able-bodied adults back from welfare to work,” he said.

“We should stop trying to define people by their barriers and really start recognizing their potential. Work isn't a bad four-letter word,” Ingram said while on the NPR program On Point. “It’s not a punishment. It’s a force for good in people’s lives.”

Young has a different view.

“The thing we know from past experience is that work requirements do not end or reduce poverty,” she said. “They do not increase individual's well-being, and, in fact, they make individuals and families more vulnerable.”

Also, she said, the majority of those who will lose eligibility already work but are underemployed, or they face barriers to getting jobs such as  transportation issues or a work shortage in their community.

“This rule will harm Illinois’ economy as well as the national economy,’’ Young said. “It will harm grocery retailers (and) agricultural producers by reducing the amount of SNAP dollars available to spur local economic activity and support communities.”

Copyright 2019 NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Maureen Foertsch McKinney is the NPR Illinois News Editor and a lead editor of Illinois Issues' feature articles, working with freelance writers, and is curator of the Equity blog. Maureen joined the staff in 1998 as projects editor. Previously, she worked at three Illinois daily newspapers, most recently the suburban Chicago-based Daily Herald, where she served stints as an education reporter and copy editor. She graduated in 1985 with a bachelor's in journalism. She also has a master's degree in English from the University of Illinois at Springfield.