More will have to work to keep food stamps

More will have to work to keep food stamps

Ever since Georgia implemented work requirements for certain food stamp recipients in three Atlanta area counties, the number of those people receiving the government benefit has dropped significantly.

Now Georgia plans to extend the work mandate from three counties to 24 across the state.

The work mandate affects able-bodied adults without children. Since the new rule started in Cobb, Gwinnett and Hall in January, the number of these people receiving food stamps has dropped by 60 percent.

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The announced expansion has re-ignited a flame-throwing debate. Advocates see the mandate as pushing people, particularly lazy ones, into the work world. But opponents say it robs an essential safety net from people who can’t find a job.

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Beginning in January, the mandate covers an additional 21 counties statewide.  Several are in metro Atlanta, including Fayette, Forsyth, Paulding, Coweta and Bartow Counties.

"No one who is able-bodied and able to work should be drawing food stamps, period," State Rep. Greg Morris of Vidalia tells the AJC.

The expansion affects another 10,000 childless food stamp recipients.  They must work at least 20 hours a week or participate in an approved job training or education course.  There is also an option to volunteer at a state-sanctioned non-profit or charity.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports there is a right of appeal if food-stamp recipients believe they've been stricken from the program unfairly.  Until a Marietta veteran's food stamps were restored, he had to rely on a food pantry for assistance.

Georgia provides food stamps to 1.7 million people.  Of those, about 113,000 are classified as able-bodied adults without children.

WSB Radio contributed to this story.