Newscasts

PNS Daily Newscast - November 19, 2018. 


More than 1,200 missing in the California wildfires. Also on the Monday rundown: A pair of reports on gun violence in the nation; and concerns that proposed changes to 'Green Card' rules favor the wealthy.

Daily Newscasts

WV Families on SNAP Say Few Use Program to Avoid Work

Food pantries reported a rise in requests for help in the nine West Virginia counties where work requirements were added to the SNAP program. (WV Center on Budget and Policy)
Food pantries reported a rise in requests for help in the nine West Virginia counties where work requirements were added to the SNAP program. (WV Center on Budget and Policy)
January 29, 2018

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia lawmakers who want to add work requirements to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program argue that many of the people now getting SNAP are shirking employment, but evidence suggests that's not true.

Angie Williams is a single mother of four with a full-time job as a social worker, on track to get a master's degree. She said her ex-husband is not paying court-ordered child support, and without it she has little choice but to apply for several kinds of assistance, including SNAP.

Williams said it can be humiliating to go though more than twenty pages of nosy paperwork and a personal interview.

"I was actually kind of embarrassed about it,” Williams said. “It takes a lot of time to complete the application and it would actually be easier not to request that assistance. But if you need it, you need it."

She said many people probably give up rather than go through that every few weeks.

A nine-county work rules pilot project pushed more than 5,000 adults out of the program but seems to have resulted in only a few hundred getting jobs. Food pantries in those counties also reported a sharp rise in requests for help.

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources concluded that the pilot-project work rules did little to push beneficiaries into employment, and state figures suggest that most adults getting SNAP who can work, already are.

Lisa Doyle-Parsons leads the anti-poverty Circles Campaign of the Mid-Ohio Valley, where Williams is a client. She said in her population, people will always take a job, unless issues such as transportation or child care get in the way.

"I do think that people will work,” Doyle-Parsons said. “I’ve never had one that, if an opportunity presented itself, that they didn't take that opportunity."

For one thing, she said, the benefits are too low to live on. And she said, to survive, most people have to treat them as a supplement to some other source of income.

"I think 20 years ago you probably could have gotten a check and sat at home,” Doyle-Parsons said. “But I don't think, in the way it is now, I just don't think - it doesn't profit them to sit at home."

A SNAP work rules bill is up before the House Judiciary Committee. Gov. Jim Justice recently said West Virginia would not apply for a federal waiver to add similar work rules to Medicaid.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV