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New Mexico food stamp recipients could be required to work

By Patrick Hayes
LAS CRUCES, N.M. – Big changes could be coming for people in New Mexico on SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

New Mexico could become one of the states that will try out a new pilot program which will require people on food stamps to get a job.

Matt Kennicott, a spokesperson for the Human Services Department, which oversees food stamps, said nothing has been decided. 

He said it will ultimately be up to the federal government.

The changes would require that people on government assistance work at least 20 hours a week. 

U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham addressed the issue last week and told Human Services Secretary Sidonie Squier, “I think every New Mexican, and I agree, that every able-bodied adult should have meaningful employment but let’s be mindful about the conditions around the country.”

Grisham said that New Mexico ranks 48th in job growth and first in food insecurity in children.

She asked, “When they’re not enough jobs to go around do we tell these kids and families, 'I’m sorry, you’ll be hungry?'”

For people who can’t find jobs, the state will accept community service or on-the-job training to meet the 20-hour obligation.

In March, New Mexico residents received more than $50 million in food stamps.