NM to require work for some food stamp recipients

Updated: 08/05/2014 9:29 AM | Created: 08/04/2014 1:08 PM
By: Elizabeth Reed,

New Mexico's Human Services Department confirms the state is planning to reinstate a mandatory work order for the food stamp program in October.

The order would require childless recipients between 18-59 to work 20 hours a week in order to receive food stamps. Matt Kennicott with the Human Services Department confirmed that would be around 26,600 recipients.

Kennicott also said Gov. Susana Martinez's administration wants recipients with kids older than 6-years-old to search for a job or do community service.

Pregnant women, people with disabilities or those who are physically no longer able to work and parents or caregivers of children under the age of 6 would be exempt.

People between 16-17 and who qualify for food stamp benefits must be in school or a job training program.

The Human Services Department says recipients would be able to fill the 20-hour requirement in three ways: Getting a job, doing community service or participating in on-the-job training. The department says it would also provide job placement services.

According to Kennicott, a public meeting will be held on Aug. 29 in Santa Fe on the proposal. The meeting will take place at 2009 Pacheco St. at 9 p.m.

More than 414,000 New Mexicans receive food stamps each month, according to USDA statistics.

Opponents argue the new proposals could push out people who need the services.

"We definitely think when you expand the number of people subject to mandatory work requirements, you're obviously going to expand the number of people who can't comply and who will be sanctioned out," Louise Pocock, an attorney with New Mexico Center on Law Poverty said.

Pocock argues the job search requirements are already in place for adults 18-50 is too much of a burden.

"Yeah, we work directly with the populations that are affected by these employment programs, and we see on a daily basis how people struggle even if they do have minimum employment that complies with these programs," she said. "They still struggle to put food on their tables."

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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