Requirements proposed for some food stamp recipients

A state House panel Wednesday endorsed a pilot program that would impose requirements for certain food stamp recipients to keep receiving benefits.

House Bill 464 would require non-working, able-bodied adults to be engaged in acceptable workforce training or education activities. The legislation would restrict the experiment to Tangipahoa Parish where some 2,188 individuals could be impacted.

The state Department of Children and Family Services would verify the individual’s status every six months. If the conditions are met, the food stamps would continue. If not, the benefit would soon cease.

“Our goal with this is not to create a diet” as one legislator suggested, said bill sponsor state Rep. Chris Broadwater, R-Hammond. “It’s to work collaboratively with the individual.”

“We want to provide this benefit as long as needed. But ‘we want you to participate with us to become self-sufficient,’” he said. He said the idea is to help people move to independence.

The pilot program would require federal approval.

The House Health and Welfare Committee, without objection, shipped the bill to the full House for consideration.

Broadwater initially wanted the food stamp agency to check on recipients status every three months. But there was a $221,000 price tag associated with hiring five people and a computer programming upgrade. So, Broadwater agreed to once every six months - the same time when food stamp eligibility is re-determined in the normal course of business.