For Immediate Release: February 14, 2022
Contact: Renee Alves, 559-916-5939
Charleston, WV – In May 2016, West Virginia implemented a pilot program that placed time limits on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) eligibility for adults without children in the home (officially referred to as “abled-bodied adults without dependents” or “ABAWDs”) across nine counties. Under these time limits, those affected were ineligible for SNAP if they could not meet certain work requirements. Despite the pilot project’s overwhelming failure to increase employment among impacted folks and clear role in increasing food and economic insecurity, in 2018 West Virginia legislators passed a law, HB 4001, that would implement these time limits statewide. This legislation is scheduled to go into effect later this year while also ending state authority to waive the SNAP time limits in future economic downturns. While the federal government has suspended these time limits for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency, without further legislative action, HB 4001 will soon apply to ABAWDs across all of West Virginia – regardless of available job opportunities, the unemployment rate, or other factors that may impact these individuals.
Our new issue brief examines the failure of the SNAP time limit pilot program, the negative implications of HB 4001, and the urgent need for state lawmakers to reverse course during the 2022 West Virginia legislative session to preserve critical SNAP flexibilities. This brief was co-authored by WVCBP health policy analyst, Rhonda Rogombe, and WVCBP executive director, Kelly Allen.
“In addition to a lack of beneficial impact on SNAP enrollees, SNAP time limits harm West Virginia’s economy as the state forgoes millions of dollars that circulate beyond food purchases each year,” says Rogombe. “In transferring the state’s authority to make nuanced food policy decisions to the federal government, West Virginia lawmakers fail to address hunger needs and relinquish their power to address economic downturns in the future.”
Recommendations to Address Hunger Among the ABAWD Population:
You can read the full issue brief here.