Inhumane to expect work? Inhumane to expect poverty for generations.

Community colleges will be essential to training food stamp recipients to join the workforce.
Community colleges will be essential to training food stamp recipients to join the workforce. BND file photo

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis’ hackles go up when you talk about a “work requirement” for food stamp recipients.

“What we really require in the House bill is really education and training requirements. What we’re saying is we want you to go to school, we want you to get trained and we’re going to pay for it,“ Davis said.

“This is our chance to lift them out of the cycle of poverty, and 80 percent of folks think it’s a good idea.”

That is, unless they are playing politics. Then it’s a “work requirement.” Then it’s being mean to poor people just trying to get food.

In the coming months we are likely to see a new Farm Bill. It might contain new rules about what you must do to receive food stamps, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, if you are able-bodied, of working age and your kids are old enough to be in school. Congress is trying to fix the program after it jumped from about 26 million recipients in 2007 to nearly 48 million in 2013 — costing taxpayers nearly $80 billion. It dropped to 42 million in 2017 at a cost of $68 billion.

The number of people still on SNAP is lagging the recovery. About 67 percent of them would qualify to receive 20 hours a week of education and job training if the requirement can get through the U.S. Senate this time. The proposal starts at $250 million for training and quickly jumps to $1 billion a year.

Davis said the jobs are out there, and he sees his district’s employers offering good-paying jobs but being unable to find candidates. He said one trucking company pays $70,000 for delivering to fast food restaurants, but can’t find folks who have spent the eight weeks to train for their commercial driver’s license.

Rather than talking about it being cruel to make people work for their food, we should be talking to U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth about the cruelty of keeping people in poverty and denying them the American Dream. Durbin in May voted against the Farm Bill and Duckworth was out on maternity leave.

Lift up through education, and we spread the dignity of being a taxpayer and supporting your family.