US Administration considers plan to drug test some food stamp recipients

A plan under review by Donald Trump’s administration would allow states to require a percentage of food stamp recipients to undergo mandatory drug testing, the Associated Press reported.

While the USDA does gives states some flexibility in determining need, federal law prohibits them from imposing additional eligibility requirements, including drug testing sanctions, on food stamp recipients. The current proposal seeks to acquiesce to conservative lawmakers who for years have been pushing for more control over how the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is regulated to the poor.

This isn’t the first time the issue has been in the spotlight. Most recently, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, announced that he was moving forward with plans to make the state the nation’s first in drug testing able-bodied recipients.

The largest program in the domestic hunger safety net, SNAP offers nutrition assistance to millions of low-income individuals and families. SNAP already requires all recipients to meet work requirements unless they are exempt because of age or disability or another specific reason.

According to AP’s report, the plan targets 5 percent of the recipients who are “able-bodied, without dependents and applying for some specialized jobs.”

The Trump administration has been consistently targeting the “able-bodied without dependents” group.  Last month, the USDA announced that it was looking to the public to generate creative ways to promote self-sufficiency among SNAP recipients with the potential to earn income.

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According to the latest data for fiscal year 2018, more than 40 million people participate in SNAP. The average monthly benefit is $129.93 per person.

While the Republican Administration works to monitor those who receive assistance, in 2013, Trey Radel, a first-term Republican Congressional member who supported drug testing of food stamp beneficiaries, was arrested for cocaine possession.

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Veteran newspaper and digital journalist, she is a thought leader in accountability journalism and ethics, and serves as a member of PBS’ Editorial Standards Review Committee.

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