March 5, 2024

Florida's Expansion of SNAP Mandatory Work Requirements Will Hurt Program Participants and Local Economies

Despite the prevalence of hunger among older Floridians, lawmakers have introduced two bills (HB 1267 and SB 7052) that raise the age for mandatory participation in the SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) Program to 59 and put older Floridians’ food assistance at risk.

Although the Department of Children and Families already rolled out the expansion on an administrative basis in November 2023, the legislation would codify this action. This would make it more difficult, if not impossible, to undo the policy in a disaster or times of sudden economic decline when jobs for older Floridians are in short supply.

SNAP E&T was created by Congress to help SNAP participants develop skills they may need to get and keep jobs through training, education, and support services. Under federal law, Florida has the choice of whether to make SNAP E&T mandatory or voluntary. If a program is mandatory, participants are subject to a sanction if they fail to report that they worked or participated in an approved E&T work or training program for an average of 120 hours each month. Being sanctioned means that a participant’s SNAP assistance — and, in many cases, the SNAP assistance of everyone in the household — will be cut off, even if the participant cannot keep up with the paperwork. Sanctions range from losing SNAP assistance for a minimum of one to six months.

SNAP E&T work requirements are, for many, a failed policy that does little more than create unnecessary hardship:

  • Imposing work requirements on older Floridians will cause enormous hardship to people whose food assistance is cut off as a sanction. Aging Floridians already experience significant food insecurity. Almost 7 percent of Floridians aged 50-59 are food insecure — and seniors aged 60 and older fare even worse. The rate of food insecurity for people aged 60 and over is 8.5 percent. Yet, sanctions do little to increase a participant’s employment or annual earnings.‍ In an analysis of SNAP E&T programs, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service says that people who get an E&T sanction had lower employment and earnings compared to those not sanctioned.
  • When SNAP participants lose their assistance as an E&T sanction, local economies lose, too. Each dollar of SNAP that is spent in Florida communities generates up to $1.79 in economic activity.[1] However, households who are being sanctioned have less money to spend on food in their local grocery stores, farmers markets, and farm stands.
  • Mandatory E&T programs are costly if done correctly. In Florida’s SNAP E&T program, the vast majority of mandatory participants are assigned to job search training, supervised job search, and basic skills instruction. Few participants are offered more robust education or training programs designed to either build job related skills at worksites or allow them to earn post-secondary certificates, credentials, and licenses that may help put them on a path out of poverty.
  • SNAP, which is designed as a food assistance program and not a job training program, is the most important safety net protecting people from food insecurity in Florida. Every month, SNAP provides food assistance to about 3 million people with low income who are struggling to put food on the table. 

The Sunshine State has one of the oldest populations in the country. Expanding mandatory E&T to older Floridians is a bad policy choice — one that will do little except cause hardship to participants and cost communities the influx of dollars that otherwise would have been spent on food in local neighborhoods.


[1] While SNAP’s administrative costs are shared among states and the federal government, every penny of SNAP benefits distributed to participating households is paid for by the federal government.

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