LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to legally challenge a federal rule change that would cut food benefits for 304,000 local residents.
Supervisor Hilda Solis recommending taking legal action against changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
“This draconian new rule will take food away from nearly 700,000 SNAP recipients nationally, which includes 304,000 recipients in Los Angeles County, by imposing work requirements on individuals who struggle to find gainful employment,” Solis said. “This is yet another assault by this administration against the millions of working families, and children, who rely on SNAP to combat hunger.”
The rule change to SNAP, known in California as CalFresh and more commonly as food stamps, was finalized Dec. 4. It is set to take effect on April 1.
The administrative change is intended to make it more difficult for states to waive federal work requirements for food stamp recipients. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue defended the decision in a news release last week, saying that SNAP was meant only to provide assistance during tough times.
“Government can be a powerful force for good, but government dependency has never been the American dream. We need to encourage people by giving them a helping hand but not allowing it to become an indefinitely giving hand,” Perdue said. “Now, in the midst of the strongest economy in a generation, we need everyone who can work, to work.”
The Department of Agriculture said it would not affect children or seniors, but critics said recipients often share benefits with other family members.
Solis said it would hurt LA County residents who make ends meet by taking seasonal or part-time jobs with unreliable hours. She also pointed to the ripple effect on economic growth.
“Having served as U.S. Secretary of Labor during the Great Recession, I saw firsthand the economic stimulus that SNAP provides to the economy — and the lifeline it offers to individuals and families during hard times,” Solis said.
The board asked the county counsel to analyze the rule and recommend whether to file suit, join an existing lawsuit or file a friend of the court brief in support of another suit.