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Food Stamp Work Requirement To Return For Most Of Tenn.

Posted at 1:23 PM, Sep 18, 2017

Governor Bill Haslam is reinstating food stamp work requirements for most Tennessee counties starting February 1.  

Haslam said Monday that Tennessee will re-establish federal work requirements in 70 counties for able-bodied adults without dependents who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.

That requirement was waived in 2008 amid recession. It won't be reinstated for 16 economically distressed counties. Currently, the work requirement is in place in nine counties, including seven in the Nashville area.

Haslam said it's now difficult to justify the waiver amid record-low unemployment rates and substantial job growth. The governor's office says other states have similarly restored work requirements.

"We do take a look at the poverty rate, the unemployment rate, we took a look at the per-capita income as well as labor surplus," said TN Department of Human Services Commissioner Danielle Barns.

Haslam said this is the responsible way to spend federal money, which funds the program. He said who will be accepted by the program will be on a case-by-case basis.

The change affects 58,000 of about 1 million Tennesseans on food stamps.

The administration said Haslam also will propose legislative changes to reduce welfare fraud, waste and abuse.