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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release July 14, 1999
                        TO HELP WORKING FAMILIES

                             July 14, 1999

Today President Clinton will take a series of executive actions to help ensure working families access to food stamps. In a speech to the Democratic Leadership Council, the President will announce three actions to promote work over welfare: (1) allowing states to make it easier for working families to own a car and still be eligible for food stamps; (2) simplifying food stamp reporting rules to reduce bureaucracy and encourage work; and (3) launching a nationwide public education campaign and a toll-free hotline to help working families know whether they are eligible for food stamps.

For the past 6 1/2 years, the President has carried out a new approach to help lift people out of poverty, by forging a new social contract that rewards work, family, and responsibility. Along with the Earned Income Tax Credit, Medicaid coverage, and child care, food stamps are an important support for working families. Families with earnings up to 130 percent of poverty ($8.50 an hour for a family of three) can be eligible for food stamps to supplement their income and help buy food for their families, but only two of five working families eligible for food stamps actually apply for and receive them. Today the President will take three new executive actions to help working families:

     Issue Guidance Making it Easier for Families to Own a Reliable Car
     and Receive Food Stamps: If we want people to leave welfare and go
     to work, we need to make sure they can get to work.  Because lack
     of reliable transportation is a major barrier to families finding
     and keeping a job, the welfare reform law of 1996 allowed states to
     make it easier for families to own a car and still be eligible for
     the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.  But
     until now, states have been able to use that flexibility only to
     help those receiving cash welfare benefits, while working families
     receiving in-kind benefits through TANF, such as child care,
     continue to lose eligibility for food stamps if the value of their
     car exceeds the food stamp program asset limit of $4,650.  This
     policy forced many working families to choose between nutritional
     assistance or a reliable car.  Today, the Administration will
     release new policy guidance to allow states to use their more
     generous TANF asset test, rather than the Food Stamp Program asset
     limit, in determining food stamp eligibility for all families
     eligible for TANF.  This will enable working families eligible for
     in-kind TANF benefits (e.g., child care, job retention services,
     on-the-job training) to have a reliable car and still get food
     stamps.  More and more states are using TANF funds to provide
     non-cash supports for working families to help people who have left
     welfare stay off the rolls and help families from going on welfare
     in the first place.  The President encouraged states to provide
     non-cash supports in the final TANF regulation he announced on
     April 10.

     Unveil New Rules Making it Easier for States to Serve Working
     Families:  Current food stamp procedure requires administering
     agencies to adhere to complex rules on reporting and projecting
     income, and penalizes states for small errors in projected
     earnings.  But low-income working families often have fluctuating
     incomes, because their hours of work per week vary or they change
     jobs frequently.  The old rules discourage recipients from going to
     work, and impose on agencies an enormous paperwork burden.  Now,
     the Administration will allow states new options to simplify these
     rules, making it easier for working families to report income and
     easier for the food stamp program to serve working families.  For
     example, families will now be able to report earnings every quarter
     instead of every month.

     Announce Public Education Campaign and Hotline, and New USDA Food
     Stamp Toolkit:  The President will announce that Secretary of
     Agriculture Dan Glickman will lead a nationwide food stamp public
     education campaign to educate working families about food stamps
     through new informational materials and an enhanced toll-free
     information line.  The Administration will also release a new USDA
     Food Stamp Toolkit that will provide state, local, and community
     leaders information about best practices to assist working families
     and will clearly explain the food stamp law's access requirements.