Mississippians won't see any changes for single people receiving food stamps in the state despite new federal guidelines. MPB's Desare Frazier reports.
In 2017 Mississippi lawmakers passed the HOPE Act. It requires able-bodied adults without children who aren't working at least 20 hours a week, to be in a job or education program. Since then Mississippi Department of Human Services reports nearly 39,000 people have been removed from the rolls. Mississippi is still the hungriest state in the nation. Charles Beady with the Mississippi Food Network says they are distributing more food than ever before.
"We've distributed closed to 27 million pounds this calendar year. We're looking at another couple of million pounds distributed probably before the month is over. There are some 600,000 in the State of Mississippi that are hungry or food insecure," said Beady.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture stipulates single people 18 to 49 without children or a disability can receive food stamps for three months every three years. Before the HOPE Act, Mississippi and other states obtained waivers to continue providing food stamps due to high unemployment and poverty. Citing low unemployment the USDA is now making waivers more restrictive. Like Mississippi, it's adding a work training requirement. Mississippi Second District Congressman Democrat Bennie Thompson thinks it's cruel.
"I see nothing positive from this new policy the President is doing. But it is consistent with them wanting to pick on the most vulnerable people in this country," said Thompson.
Mississippi Republican Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith supports the new rules.
"It should be implemented in the way that it was intended to be implemented to those who were intended to receive it," said Hyde-Smith.
Mississippi's Department of Human Services says the goal of the HOPE Act is to promote self-sufficiency.