Tomorrow, the U.S. House is expected to vote on a Farm Bill that, like Arkansas Works, stiffens work requirements for recipients of SNAP (food stamp) benefits. The bill would also cut benefits by more than $17 billion over the next 10 years.

Folks who think that only deadbeats need help for medical care and food will probably not call Arkansas’s congressmen. Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families is urging folks who understand that Arkansans who benefit most from food stamps are children and the disabled to call their congressmen. (Phone numbers at end of post.)

We’ve seen how America treats brown children from south of the border trying to escape miserable and dangerous situations in their home countries. Now we can see what Congress thinks of American children.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis of the bill notes that the bill requires not only difficult-to-meet work requirements, including steady hours, it will require states to create a bureaucracy to keep up with the reporting on requirements. The bill would fund job training, but the training is untested. The bill’s requirements are not evidence-based, the Center finds.

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“It would require SNAP participants ages 18 through 59 who are not disabled or raising a child under 6 to prove — every month — that they’re working at least 20 hours a week, participating at least 20 hours a week in a work program, or a combination of the two. The typical individual who would be subject to the new requirements receives about $150 to $185 a month in SNAP benefits.

Those who can’t comply would face harsh sanctions. The first sanction for non-compliance would mean a loss of the individual’s share of the household benefit (rather than the household’s entire benefit) for 12 months; each subsequent infraction would lock individuals out of the program for 36 months.”

With the country’s politics swinging to the far, far right, its leaders continue to offer legislation that springs from an ideology that blames the poor for being poor, a belief held by people of means who might be among the poor if it weren’t for their lucky birth circumstances. For the center’s snapshot on SNAP recipients in Arkansas, go here. Among its facts: More than 74 percent of Arkansans who get SNAP benefits are in families with children, and 44 percent are in working families.

You may remember Ellie Wheeler’s column published in the Times in May that explained why work requirements are difficult to meet:

Parents who go through a short period where work isn’t available will be out of luck even if they work 20 hours a week on average. One in four workers on SNAP who meet the work requirements overall throughout the year could still lose eligibility.

For a part-time working parent making ends meet with SNAP, a minor schedule change at the end of the month could disqualify them at a time when their paycheck is smallest. And if you don’t meet the requirements one month, you could lose benefits for the entire year unless the circumstances of your job change. A second missed requirement could make you ineligible for up to three years.

The proposal essentially demands that low-wage parents get what many can only dream of — predictable work schedules. If you want people in Arkansas to have stable work hours, you should tell their employers.

Arkansas Advocates provided, by district and congressmen to call, percentages of residents whose access to affordable and nutritious food is unreliable.

1st District: 19.7 percent food insecure. Rep. Rick Crawford, 202-225-4076.
2nd District: 18.1 percent food insecure. Rep. French Hill, 202-225-2506.
3d District: 13 percent food insecure. Rep. Steve Womack, 202-225-4301.
4th District: 18.5 percent food insecure. Rep. Bruce Westerman, 202-225-3772.