Limited SNAP benefits are adding more pressure on needy families to qualify

As Covid concerns ease, the federal funding of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program commonly called SNAP has snapped back to pre-pandemic stipulations
Published: Apr. 3, 2023 at 12:54 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - While many states continue to keep current snap funding 18 states including South Dakota have made cuts to SNAP. Republican South Dakota Rep. Dusty Johnson introduced a bill that could make it even harder for millions across the country relying on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. A local foundation says Johnson’s bill doesn’t address why SNAP families are going hungry right here at home.

“America Works Act”, a bill by Johnson limits access to SNAP, the food stamp program, for Americans 18 to 65, without dependents, if they do not participate in work, training, or education for 20 hours a week. Johnson says, “This is mostly making the rest of the country play by the rules that South Dakota and most other states have played by for the course of almost the last 30 years.” The extra food allowance provided during covid in South Dakota ended in January.

Johnson says the way out of poverty is through work and doesn’t want states to waive these requirements, “Work requirements have been the law of the land in South Dakota and in other states since 1996. They were put in place with strong bi-partisan votes, by a democratic president and a republican congress and we know they work. The work requirements do not apply to people who are pregnant, people with young dependents at home, people with disabilities, or seniors.”

USDA data show 41 million people used SNAP benefits in 2022. In South Dakota, 70,000 people rely on SNAP, according to the Department of Social Services website, with half of the allowance going to feed families. The US Census says more than three-quarters of those families had at least one worker and about one-third included two or more workers, a clear indication that many families rely on snap, also work.

“37,000 households are in poverty alone in South Dakota so that’s just households, if we want to look at individuals, that’s one hundred thousand individuals are in poverty in South Dakota that’s half of Sioux Falls population in poverty and so when you start putting on they have to be this old to start working or to continue working we’re putting more people on the street,” says Shereece Tatum of Western South Dakota Community Action.

Yet, the myth that a SNAP recipient doesn’t work and lives the good life on the government persists. USDA says most participants in South Dakota have incomes below the poverty line. Former SNAP recipient and now Community Coordinator with Western South Dakota Community Action says SNAP is needed but making ends meet is the problem. “Our working minimum wage for our state is poverty level. They’re working. We are overworking people already in trauma already in crisis already can’t live. How are you gonna get your kids picked up, how u gonna pay for daycare on top of that your gas.”

We reached out to the Department of Social Services, but they declined to comment.