Work requirement for food stamp recipients 'unreasonably harsh,' must go, group tells Jindal _lowres

In this Sept. 10, 2015 file photo, Republican presidential candidate, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks at the National Press Club in Washington. (AP Photo/Molly Riley, File)

A New Orleans organization advocating for low-income residents urged Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration to end a new minimum work requirement enacted for more than 60,000 food stamp recipients.

The group Stand With Dignity sent a complaint letter to Jindal and his Department of Children and Families Services secretary, Suzy Sonnier, calling the work requirements “unreasonably harsh.”

The Jindal administration let a federal waiver expire on Oct. 1 that allowed adults aged 18 to 49 without children to receive food stamps without a work requirement. They will soon be required to work at least 20 hours per week or be enrolled in a federally-approved job training program to receive benefits.

States that meet certain U.S. Labor Department criteria have been able to get waivers from the work requirements in federal law.

Stand With Dignity called on the Jindal administration to reapply for a waiver, saying high unemployment will make it difficult for people to find jobs. Without a waiver, up to 64,000 people risk losing $12.5 million a month in available food aid, the organization’s letter says.

Grace Weber, spokeswoman for the Department of Children and Family Services, said the agency has received the letter and will consider the request.

The organization also sent the letter to U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsak, asking them to direct the state to “comply with the letter and spirit of federal law.”