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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez blasts Trump administration for cuts to food stamps, sharing that her family ‘might’ve just starved’ without them

Freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York slammed the Trump administration on Thursday over new changes to the food stamps program that will cause nearly 700,000 people to lose access to the welfare program.

The Trump administration on Wednesday finalized a rule, which would tighten work requirements for able-bodied adults enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). According to The Department of Agriculture, this would leave up to 688,000 people without food stamps as a result of the change.

Ocasio-Cortez hit back at the Trump administration on Twitter over the new rule, explaining that her family once relied on the program when her father died.

“My family relied on food stamps (EBT) when my dad died at 48,” she wrote, referring to the acronym for the electronic benefits transfer which is provided each month through a debit-like card.

“I was a student,” she continued. “If this happened then, we might've just starved.”

“Now, many people will,” she said. “It's shameful how the GOP works overtime to create freebies for the rich while dissolving lifelines of those who need it most.”

The new rule closes “a loophole in current law, which gives states the flexibility to waive certain asset and income limits for individuals who are receiving both SNAP and other welfare benefits,” NPR reported.

Some college students who benefit from SNAP worry that new work requirements would make juggling work and education virtually impossible. Carlina, a 35-year-old full-time San Jose State, told San Jose Inside that trying to balance a part-time job with enough hours to qualify for food stamps while also devoting time to her studies will only become harder under the new requirements.

“It's really hard to get out of that hole when you have to be in the hole to get help to begin with,” she said.

Officials argued that the policy change would save the government over $5 billion over five years, and was not a necessity for certain groups as the US labor market thrives. (For perspective, the Trump administration is spending $16 billion bailing out farmers hit by the US-China trade war.)

“We need to encourage people by giving them a helping hand but not allowing it to become an indefinitely giving hand,” said USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue. “This rule lays the groundwork for the expectation that able-bodied Americans re-enter the workforce where there are currently more job openings than people to fill them.”

Changes to the program would also deliver a blow to retailers like Walmart, Target, Kroger, and dollar stores that depend on billions of dollars in food-stamp spending every year.

The USDA said that Americans redeemed about $61 billion in SNAP benefits last year, more than half of that total having been spent at larger stores like Walmart and Target.