The number of individuals and families collecting SNAP or food stamp benefits has decreased dramatically since Donald Trump became president in 2017. There are 2.4 million fewer families and 5.8 million fewer individuals collecting food stamps now, according to the USDA.

In fairness to the previous administration, the reduction in the rolls of SNAP recipients began in earnest in 2013 once the recovery from the "great recession" was underway and food stamp enrollment had reached an all-time peak.

But most of the decline during the Obama years was due to reforms at the state level. Many states began to require able-bodied recipients to either work at least part-time, go to school or receive some sort of training to remain eligible for the assistance.

There are currently some 36.4 million individuals and 18.5 million households enrolled in the food stamp program, according to the USDA. The Trump administration is looking to lower that number even more by instituting some of the same successful policies put into place at the state level.

Breitbart reports that as of April 1 "those who are able-bodied and between the ages of 18-49 and without children or dependents who receive food stamps for more than three months in a 36-month period must work, go to school, receive job training, or volunteer to receive benefits." Breitbart says the rule "does not apply to those who are over 50 years old, pregnant, disabled, or caretakers for children."

The administration says its policy could knock another 755,000 recipients off the food stamp rolls for a savings of $5.5 billion over five years and says the changes would allow for otherwise government-dependent individuals and families to become self-sufficient.

The new rules are being challenged in court by Attorneys General such as Maura Healey (D-Massachusetts) who insist the changes would force people to go without food.

Teaching people to be self-sufficient while weening them from government dependency is a good thing. Able-bodied Americans should be in the workforce and not at home collecting benefits from government programs.

The fact that Healey and others like her believe that people cannot exist without the government providing for their every need is very telling. Healy and her ilk want to control people rather than to allow them to be the masters of their own destinies.

The "free everything" movement is all about control and dependency and not about self-reliance and self-determination. Remember that this fall.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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