| December 14 2019,

00:17 am

This is the weekly column written by Blavity:Politics Senior Editor Kandist Mallett.

On December 4, the Trump administration made an egregious attack against the poor by restricting and cutting funds for the government assistance program Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), colloquially known as food stamps. The provisions require those whom the state considers "able-bodied" to work at least 20 hours a week in order to qualify for food stamps, with few exceptions. 

As reported in a Blavity Politics article, “the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s final rule makes it more difficult for states to waive work requirements. Specifically, states will now have a harder time maintaining benefits for able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 and 49 without dependents who work less than 20 hours a week. This rule does not apply to children and their parents, those over 50 years old, including the elderly, those with a disability or pregnant women.”

Almost 700,000 people will be impacted by this new rule. 

A census data report issued in September found this decade to be the highest in income inequality since the Census Bureau began collecting data five decades ago. As we approach a new decade and another presidential election, we must do a moral audit and an honest reflection of our country and our government. 

Poverty wasn’t invented under Trump and his administration, but he has exacerbated our institutional faults. Changes to the SNAP program only further underscore the “let them eat cake" sentiment that Trump has toward the poor. 

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that, in 2016, Black households were at a higher risk of food insecurity than the nation as a whole. When looking specifically into who uses SNAP benefits, the report found that "a typical participating African American family of three has an average monthly income of $940, or 56 percent of the poverty line. When their $390 SNAP benefit — the average for a family of three — is added to their cash income, total monthly income rises by 29 percent, to $1,330.”

We don’t have to wait for the data to know that Trump’s new rule on SNAP will hurt thousands of struggling Black households that depend on the government program to survive. Like many of the Trump administration's policies, this provision was introduced and implemented without full preparedness on the practicality of its implementation.

How does someone in a gig economy prove that they are working 20 hours a week when they have multiple jobs they are working under contract? How does a domestic worker getting paid under the table prove their hours of labor? And ultimately, isn’t there something inherently wrong with saying that someone who is not working doesn’t deserve to eat? Is that something that a country that deems itself to be morally superior should really be implementing? 

This attack on SNAP recipients should be seen as an assault on the Black community at large, for while we may not all be dependent on food stamps for survival, there are enough of us who are. For that reason, it's something worth fighting for.