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8/12/2019
Dunleavy seeks to change food-stamp rules: Would tighten work rules

ANCHORAGE (AP) — Alaska's governor is seeking to tighten the rules for food stamp recipients, officials said.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy's administration wants to implement federal work requirements for low-income adults who receive food assistance, The Anchorage Daily News reported Sunday.

The change would affect recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits in a state that has long had  a waiver from requirements regarding how much time         adults without dependents must work or participate in an employment program.

The federal government offers a waiver if there is more than 10% unemployment in all or parts of a state or if there are not enough jobs available, which officials said is an issue in rural Alaska.

The administration wants the change in order "to comply with the spirit and intent" of federal rules, Dunleavy spokesman Matt Shuckerow said.

About 7.9% of SNAP recipients, up to 6,917 people, would need to meet work requirements beginning in October, he said.

"Given the variety of allowable work related activities, the department is not anticipating a large number of individuals will lose eligibility," Shuckerow said in an email.

The change will increase food insecurity while assistance services are already strained by the governor's budget cuts, the Food Bank of Alaska said.

Dunleavy vetoed line items equaling $444 million in reductions to Alaska's operating budget in June.

About 9,745 Alaskans benefit from the work waiver, the food bank said.

"The waiver provides our state with an important tool to protect vulnerable citizens, and to ease the burden of administering this complicated rule in a state with unique challenges," the organization said in a statement.