The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports food stamp use has fallen to the lowest level in seven years. About 42.6 million Americans participated in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) this fiscal year, down from 44.2 million a year ago.
The program swelled to 47.6 million under President Barack Obama in 2013. Many credit the decline on new requirements put in place by several states.
“A work requirement serves as a gatekeeper, it says if you need assistance it's here but you're required to work or participate in job training or community service, to do something in exchange for receiving that benefit,” says Rachel Sheffield, a senior policy advisor to the Joint Economic Committee.
Sheffield says Maine saw a steep decline since adding a work requirement for that state's recipients. “Within just a few months, they saw an 80 percent drop in their able-bodied adult without children caseload.”
However, she says there are still federal loopholes that need closing.
“Even if you have $100,000 in savings, the taxpayer will still be footing the bill even if employment is low enough, and that's not really the intention of this program,” says Sheffield.
Federal lawmakers are now looking to expand some state requirements nationwide.