ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Despite headlines last month implying sweeping changes to the national Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), food stamp recipients in Florida likely would not be affected by the proposed rule change.

On Dec. 20, the Department of Agriculture proposed a rule that would restrict the ability of states to exempt work-eligible adults from having to obtain steady employment to qualify for SNAP benefits.

But for food stamp recipients in Florida, the proposed change won’t make much of a difference.

“The new proposed rule at the federal level doesn’t really change a lot for Floridians,” said Matt Spence, chief programs officer for Feeding Tampa Bay. “D.C.F. here in the state has already implemented a 20-hour work requirement for individuals aged 18-to-59, so if you’re within that group, you’re already abiding by the proposed rule at the federal level.”

St. Petersburg Free Clinic CEO Beth Houghton adds: “I don’t expect this particular rule to impact Florida one way or the other. Adults without children who did not have a disability, they have had this requirement ongoing for some period of time. 

"It’s an administrative burden that is ridiculous for people who might get as much as $100 in SNAP benefits or food stamps – do we really think they’re not going to work or not going to see work for that $100?”

“It is meant to be a supplemental program,” added Jayci Peters, Feeding Tampa Bay’s director of marketing and communications. “So what families are receiving in SNAP, what seniors are receiving in SNAP, it’s not something that can support their grocery bill for the entire month.”

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