According to figures released by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (DHW), some 22,000 food stamp recipients are receiving benefits, but are not required to do anything to help themselves get back into the workforce.

Of the 235,000 Idahoans on food stamps, 40 percent of them, or about 93,000, are non-disabled adults without children. A portion of them, about 22,000, are not required to do any work searches or job applications to take part in the program.

These 22,000 are without jobs and don’t qualify for unemployment benefits, which require recipients to be actively seeking work in order to receive money.

It hasn’t always been this way, though. Tom Shanahan, spokesman for DHW, said that before budget holdbacks occurred in late 2009, the state required this select group of people to be seeking work in order to receive food stamps. Budget cuts forced the department to cut administrative costs and the oversight requirements were effectively ended.

There is another segment of food stamp recipients that neither earns a paycheck nor qualifies for unemployment benefits, but is required to seek work in order to qualify for aid. As part of a block grant from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Family program administered by the state, about 31,000 adults with children fall into this classification and are required to look for work to receive food stamps.

Another 40,000 adults are either working or qualify for unemployment payments. About 48 percent of food stamp recipients are children.

Rep. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, told Wednesday he doesn’t favor restoring funds to ensure the single, able-bodied adults have to look for work to get food stamps, but instead suggests DHW and the Department of Labor could collaborate to find ways to get recipients earning paychecks.

Hagedorn also suggests that food stamp recipients not working should be required to do some form of community service, including working in schools, food pantries or other charitable organizations. “If a community is supporting you, then it’s only right that the support be returned to the community,” Hagedorn said.

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