Currently, the global spread of coronavirus has forced the federal courts to issue an injunction to stop the Trump administration’s planned cuts to food stamps. The reductions in food benefits/SNAP in the US, took on a different light when the World Health Organization declared the spread of COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11.
This condition has forced the Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell to file a national ruling on Friday and prohibit the changes from taking effect on April 1. The first of three revisions that could ultimately remove almost 4 million people from food-assistance rolls.
“Especially now, as a global pandemic poses widespread health risks, guaranteeing that government officials at both the federal and state levels have the flexibility to address the nutritional needs of residents and ensure their well-being through programs like SNAP, is essential,” the court’s opinion states.
The court further state that the changes to SNAP were arbitrary and capricious and will be prevented pending a final judicial review.
Attorney General for the District of Columbia, Karl A. Racine, celebrated the announcement in a news release Friday evening.
“This is a major victory for our country’s most vulnerable residents who rely on SNAP to eat,” Racine said. “The Trump administration’s rule would have forced hundreds of thousands of people who could not find work, including 13,000 District residents, to go hungry. That could have been catastrophic in the midst of our current public health emergency.”
About 700,000 people would have been removed from SNAP were the alterations to the program to take effect next month. The changes would limit states from exempting work-eligible adults from having to maintain steady employment in order to receive benefits.
According to the Associated Press, work-eligible able-bodied adults without dependents and between the ages of 18 and 49 can currently receive only three months of SNAP benefits in a three-year period if they don’t meet the 20-hour work requirement. But states with high unemployment rates or a demonstrable lack of sufficient jobs can waive those time limits.