Groups oppose NM food stamp work requirement at public meeting

Posted at: 08/29/2014 11:44 AM
Updated at: 08/29/2014 6:31 PM
By: Elizabeth Reed,

SANTA FE -- Several groups sounded off Friday morning at a public meeting on proposed work requirements for food stamp recipients in New Mexico.

The state Department of Human Services organized the hearing at the Harold Runnels Building Auditorium in Santa Fe to receive feedback on rules for the requirement.

Starting in October, the state plans to restore the 20-hour per week work requirement for people to qualify for SNAP benefits. The mandate was suspended in 2009 because of the national recession.

On-the-job training and community service also qualify under the work mandate. Low-income parents of children over the age of 6 would have to search for a job or participate in community service to obtain SNAP benefits.

More than 414,000 New Mexicans receive food stamps each month, according to USDA statistics. Children represent about 46 percent of those receiving assistance.

"Cutting SNAP resources is not a job creation program," said Rodrigo Rodriguez, an organizer with Southwest Organizing Project. "With 1 in 3 children in New Mexico experiencing hunger, and 1 in 5 adults unsure of where their next meal is coming from, this proposal will only exacerbate hunger and reinforce poor nutrition and food insecurity for our state's most vulnerable communities."