June 21, 2024 2:57 am

Local News

Republican proposals would place more restrictions on SNAP benefits

Credit: iStock

by Caitlin Sievers, Arizona Mirror
March 14, 2024

Two Republican proposals in the state legislature would make it more difficult for Arizonans in need to keep government benefits to help them pay for food. 

The bills would impose training or work requirements on “abled-bodied” people using the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP, and would bar the Arizona Department of Economic Security from applying for work requirement waivers on behalf of able-bodied workers. 

SNAP, formerly called food stamps, helps families with low or no income pay for groceries through monthly benefits. More than 900,000 Arizonans are currently enrolled. 


Two Republican proposals in the state legislature would make it more difficult for Arizonans in need to keep government benefits to help them pay for food. 

The bills would impose training or work requirements on “abled-bodied” people using the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP, and would bar the Arizona Department of Economic Security from applying for work requirement waivers on behalf of able-bodied workers. 

SNAP, formerly called food stamps, helps families with low or no income pay for groceries through monthly benefits. More than 900,000 Arizonans are currently enrolled. 

House Bill 2502, sponsored by Rep. Leo Biasiucci, R-Havasu City, mandates that SNAP recipients aged 18-60 who are able-bodied, and don’t have disabled dependents or children younger than six, either be employed at least 30 hours per week or participate in a work training program. 

And Biasiucci’s House Bill 2503 would stop DES from applying or renewing work requirement waivers on behalf of beneficiaries in the state, something that the department might do for people living in counties that have fewer job opportunities and higher unemployment than the state as a whole. 

During a Feb. 12 House Health and Human Services Committee hearing, Biasiucci explained that a voluntary employment training program is already offered to SNAP beneficiaries, but relatively few use it. 

“At some point, if you’re able-bodied and able to work, let’s get you that training so you can get back to work and off the system,” Biasiucci said. 

Sam Adolphsen, from the Opportunity Solutions Project, a right-leaning organization based in Florida, said that about 230,000 Arizonans on SNAP were able bodied adults and 63% of those aren’t employed. 

Only about 5,000 people currently participate in SNAP’s voluntary employment and training program that costs around $11 million per year, Adolfsen said. 

But Ashley St. Thomas, with the Arizona Food Bank Network, countered that while that may be true on a monthly basis, the vast majority of those people did work at some point over the past year. Most are seasonal workers who use SNAP to feed their families between jobs. 

Scott Centorino, another representative of the Opportunity Solutions Project, said during a Senate Health and Human Services Committee meeting on March 12 that Biasiucci’s proposal was all about the “dignity of work.” 

This story is republished from AZ Mirror under a Creative Commons license. Read the original story.