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Federal judge scraps Trump rule that could have cut grocery stamps for nearly 700,000 unemployed Americans



“The final rule at issue in this litigation radically and abruptly changes decades of regulatory practice, causing confusion for tens of thousands of Americans and exponentially increasing food insecurity,” wrote Judge Beryl Howell of the Washington, DC District Court A 67 – Side judgment states that the agency has not adequately explained how the rule is compatible with federal law and how it “makes sense”.

A coalition of attorneys general from 19 states, the District of Columbia and the City of New York filed a lawsuit against the USDA rule in January.
The regulation announced in December would have resulted in more food stamp recipients having to work in order to receive benefits by restricting states̵
7; ability to forego existing work mandates. It was scheduled to go into effect April 1, but Howell blocked implementation in mid-March, and Congress suspended working mandates under the food stamp program as part of a coronavirus aid package earlier that month.

The requirement could have resulted in 688,000 able-bodied adults of working age without dependents losing their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, as food stamps are officially known, according to estimates by the Department of Agriculture calculated before the pandemic. It was expected to save $ 5.5 billion in five years.

Grocery stamp enrollments soared during the outbreak as millions of Americans lost their jobs. According to the ruling, more than 6 million people have signed up for benefits since May, an increase of 17%.

Almost 43 million Americans received benefits as of April, according to the latest data from the Department of Agriculture.

In the midst of the economic upheaval from the pandemic, hunger has risen. According to Feeding America, a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 pantries and dining programs, many lined up at food banks that served more than 1.9 billion meals between March and June.
According to a survey by the Census Bureau from mid to late September, around 10% of adults live in households where there has sometimes or often not been enough to eat in the past seven days.

During normal times, the grocery stamp program requires that non-disabled adults of working age have jobs with no dependents. They can only receive benefits every 36 months for three months unless they work or attend training programs 20 hours a week. In 2018 there were 2.9 million of these recipients, almost 74% of whom were unemployed, according to the agency.

The Ministry of Agriculture did not immediately return a request for comment.

States may waive the job requirements for areas where unemployment is at least 10% or where there are insufficient jobs as determined by the Department of Labor. The new regime would have made it more difficult for states to maintain these exemptions by, among other things, tightening the definition of areas with insufficient jobs, limiting the geographical areas of the exemptions and limiting their duration.

The move is one of three efforts by the Trump administration to overhaul the grocery stamp program.

Another proposal for a regulation, which would tighten the rules on the eligibility of grants, could lead to more than 3 million people being deprived of their services and almost 500,000 children without access to free school meals. The third proposal would change the way utility allowances are calculated, which would have mixed effects. The agency is still working on the latter two proposals.

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