Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Lutheran Advocacy Ministry: Proposed SNAP Rule Changes Will Not Help Reduce Hunger in New Mexico

Earlier this month, Gov. Susana Martinez's administration proposed to bring back and expand work-related requirements on low-income New Mexicans to qualify for food stamps. Effective in October of this year, the state plans to restore a 20-hour-a-week work requirement for an estimated 26,600 childless adults to get food stamps. The mandate was suspended in 2009 because of the national recession. On-the-job training and community service also can help meet the work mandate.

Louise Pocock, an attorney for the New Mexico Center for Law and Poverty, argues that this is not the right time to restore the requirements.  “If we had a glut of jobs in this state it would be one thing to consider making this mandatory, but that’s just not the case,” Ms. Poccok told The Associated Press. Read More in The Albuquerque Journal.

Lutheran Advocacy Ministry Speaks Out Against Changes
Here is what the Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-New Mexico, led by Ruth Hoffman, said in its August newsletter.

New work requirements should not be added to our state's SNAP program. This proposed change in the rules reverses rules that have been in place for well over a decade. Waiving the work requirement recognized the economic realities of our state. Unemployment remains high and jobs are not easily found.

New Mexico has among the highest rates of hunger in the country and nearly 30% of our children are experiencing hunger. The SNAP program is vital to those struggling to meet their families' nutritional needs. It is also vital to local food and grocery stores and to America's farmers. Remember, SNAP is administered by the U.S. Agriculture Department.
Implementing such a work requirement is a complex task for the Human Services Department which already has a huge backlog of applications and is under a federal judge's order to improve its administration of the SNAP program to deal with that backlog.

Whether or not HSD will be able to administer this proposed change is not a small question. Let's work together to address poverty and hunger by raising the minimum wage, creating high-paying jobs that can provide family-sustaining income, making quality child care more affordable and available as well as increasing the amount of affordable housing, not by putting up more barriers for people living in poverty to overcome.   

 Want to make your voice heard on this issue?  Here's how. 
Addressing this issue in a House Agriculture Subcommittee
Incidentally, this issue came up during a hearing of the Oversight & Nutrition Subcommittee of the House Agriculture Committee in July. Two New Mexico officials were involved in this discussion, Human Services Secretary Sidonie Squier (who was testifying) and Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (who asked some tough questions). Watch the exchange on YouTube.

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