The changes to the nutrition programs are part of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s ongoing effort to slash programs that help people get assistance with food, housing, health care, and other basic necessities. The primary strategy House Republicans are using to accomplish that in the Farm Bill—known as work requirements—is very ineffective at helping people find good jobs. We already learned this lesson through TANF. The new work requirements will mostly mean that jobless workers and people who face barriers to work—because they are homeless, need child care, have a criminal record, need health care, or simply lack transportation or don’t get to set their own hours at work—will lose access to the SNAP benefits that provide them with food. It also creates red tape that makes it easy for people to lose benefits for a year or more just by missing a monthly employment verification form. And past experience shows that conservative claims that people with disabilities or other health problems will be protected from work requirements simply aren’t true.
The bill does include some funding to help people find jobs or training. However, it’s not enough funding to provide a job or training to everyone who would need it: It only amounts to about $28 per person per month. By comparison, TANF’s employment services cost about $414 per person per month in the typical state and are still woefully inadequate.