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July 14, 1999

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"Since I took office, I have worked to craft a new social contract one that rewards work and responsibility and gives working families the help they need to succeed. Today, I am taking further executive action to ensure that work pays better than welfare."
President Bill Clinton
July 14, 1999

Today, in Baltimore, Maryland, President Clinton announced a series of executive actions he will take to help ensure that working families have access to food stamps. In a speech to the Democratic Leadership Council, the President announced three actions to promote work over welfare: allowing states to make it easier for working families to own a car and still be eligible for food stamps; simplifying food stamp reporting rules to reduce bureaucracy and encourage work; and launching a nationwide public education campaign and a toll-free hotline to help working families know whether theyre eligible for food stamps.

Supporting Working Families Through Executive Actions. For the past 6 years, President Clinton has worked to lift people out of poverty through 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 means of support for working families. Families with earnings up to 130% of poverty ($8.50 an hour for a family of three) can be eligible for food stamps, but only two of five working families eligible for food stamps actually apply for and receive them. Today, the President announced he will take three new executive actions to address the needs of working families:

  • Issue Guidance Making it Easier for Families to Own a Reliable Car while Receiving Food Stamps. 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 only been able to use that flexibility to help those receiving cash welfare benefits while working families receiving in-kind benefits through TANF, such as child care, continued to lose eligibility for food stamps if the value of their car exceeded 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 Clinton-Gore Administration will release new policy guidance that permits states to determine food stamp eligibility in a way that will enable working families who receive in-kind benefits to have a reliable car and still get food stamps.

  • 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 give agencies an enormous burden of paperwork. Todays executive action 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.

  • Announce Public Education Campaign, Hotline, and New Food Stamp Toolkit. The President announced that USDA Secretary 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 the best practices to assist working families, and will clearly explain the food stamp laws access requirements.

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