The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, provides assistance to millions of low-income American individuals and families to help purchase groceries. As the American economy has improved over the last five years and more Americans have returned to work since the Great Recession of 2008, the monthly average of individuals participating in SNAP has largely declined.

On July 1, 2016, Arizona will become the first state in the nation to limit lifetime welfare benefits to twelve months. How does Arizona compare to other states in terms of placing restrictions on TANF benefit time limits? Here’s a state-by-state overview.

For as many as 1 million unemployed adults across the country, the federal food assistance clock is ticking. In January, work requirements for able-bodied, childless adults who receive federal SNAP benefits—formerly known as food stamps—were reinstated in 22 states across the country, following a temporary suspension of the requirements in recent years.

Seventeen percent of Tennessee’s population is considered food insecure and in need of food assistance. Members of The Council of State Governments gathered at the culmination of the 2015 CSG National Conference Dec. 13 in Nashville, Tenn. to help address the need in the Volunteer State as part of the CSG Campaign Against Hunger initiative.

State policymakers hear frequently from employers that they cannot find skilled workers for open positions. Many of these positions are middle-skill jobs that require some form of postsecondary training, but not a bachelor’s degree. This article discusses state strategies to close skill gaps and meet employer skill needs.

Since 1996, 18 states lifted their bans on food stamp eligibility for felony drug convictions, 26 states have issued partial bans for certain types of felony convictions, and only 6 states have full bans for those with any record of a felony drug conviction. The six states with full bans are Alaska, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP and food stamps, is the nation’s largest anti-hunger program. The program is designed to be anti-cyclical—providing more benefits during economic downturns. About 46.5 million Americans received monthly SNAP benefits in the 2014 fiscal year, dramatically up from 28 million in 2008. In 2013, some states began to see SNAP numbers decline and by 2014, all but eight states posted declines in enrollment from the year before. National SNAP enrollment in 2014 was down by 2.3 percent from 2013.

The poverty guidelines for 2015 are available and published here in the Federal Register. These guidelines -- often cited as 100 percent of the federal poverty line -- are used to determine eligibility for a number of stata and federal programs. Sometimes eligibility is greater than 100 percent; for instance, the Affordable Care Act allows states to expand Medicaid eligibility to 138 percent of federal poverty. 

Within the next year, Michigan will pilot a program in three counties that will require drug tests for welfare applicants who are suspected of drug use under HB 4118 and SB 275 signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder on Dec. 26, 2014.  

The Michigan law comes on the heels of a federal circuit court ruling declaring unconstitutional a Florida law to drug test applicants for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, the federal welfare program known as TANF.

Even as the recession abates, working family incomes often cannot cover family expenses and families are reaching out to food banks and community support systems to meet basic needs. These support systems also have struggled under economically stressful times and new creative approaches are needed.