Arizona Food Stamp Changes May Leave 21,000 Without Food Benefits

By Alexandra Olgin
Published: Monday, January 4, 2016 - 8:30am
Updated: Monday, January 4, 2016 - 5:04pm

Because of low unemployment rates in Maricopa County, food stamp benefits will change in the new year. In 2016 some adults will have limits on how long they can get the benefits while out of work. 

The change will only affect able-bodied, childless adults. People will have to prove they are trying to find work. And if they don't make enough of an effort, they could lose food benefits after three months.

The limit is not new; it's being reinstated. In 2009, Arizona was granted a waiver from the able-bodied childless adult restrictions because of high unemployment rates because of the Great Recession. 

With the waiver ending next year, the Department of Economic Security estimates 21,000 people could be at risk of losing their food benefits. That’s about 8 percent of the adults getting food from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in Maricopa County. Mark Darmer is with the state department that runs the federal program.

“We are actively working to assist this population so that they do not lose the benefits," he said. "In the event that they do lose the benefits, they have the ability to come back in, reapply and comply with the program.” 

The November unemployment rate in Arizona was 6 percent. That’s down 6/10 of a percent from November 2014.

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