PROPOSED SNAP CHANGES ARE WRONG AND SHOULD BE WITHDRAWN
By John Berry
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is one of this country’s most effective and important programs to fight hunger. SNAP provides for millions of low-income Americans who suffer food insecurity. Tragically, on Feb. 1, 2019, the administration released a proposed rule to increase SNAP work requirements which severely limit the flexibility of States to adapt to the needs of low-income and working families.
If these rules become final more than 755,000 individuals would lose SNAP benefits over the next three years. Even individuals living in areas that have persistent unemployment above 6.9 percent (almost double today’s unemployment rate) would be ineligible for waivers. The proposed rule would negatively impact an estimated 1.2 million SNAP participants, 88 percent of whom have a household income at or below 50 percent of the poverty level and one-third of whom have an average monthly household income of $557. This will, of course, lead to greater food insecurity and more people in need.
Food insecurity is an evil that has a deep and wide impact on families. In addition to fighting the agony of hunger itself, proper and adequate access to nutritious food plays an important role in health outcomes, especially among children. It stands to reason then that the negative impacts of these proposed rules will no doubt include adverse health impacts to those who stand to lose SNAP coverage.
At SVdP Georgia we see the impact of hunger every day. Our food pantries and local volunteer networks provide tens of thousands of tons of food every month to people in need. Yes, you read that right; tens of thousands of tons! Because of our work with people in need to help them achieve stability and get on the road to self-sufficiency, we understand the need for, and strongly support, policies which provide greater support for individuals and families so that they can learn the skills necessary to contribute to the well-being of their families and communities. But this badly crafted, mean spirited proposed regulation provides only barriers to food assistance while providing little, if any, real support to those who would now be required to participate in education and training programs to continue to receive food assistance.
We also support efforts to strengthen the implementation of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to provide more and better ways for help people to achieve self-sufficiency. But this new rulemaking is not the way to do it. The proposed rule would in fact negatively impact access to necessary food and nutrition assistance while doing little to actually support access to programs that promote self-sufficiency. That is a lose-lose.
The administration needs to withdraw or modify the rule so that it protects access to necessary food and nutrition programs and adheres to the bipartisan policies implemented in the recently passed 2018 Farm Bill. The bipartisan Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 passed by the Congress made key investments to food access for those in need. These included increased funding in employment and training as well as funding set aside to help those with significant barriers to unemployment. The proposed rule undermines the clear intent of Congress, disrespects the states’ role in setting standards for themselves, and will increase food insecurity and demands on the charitable sector.
Please urge the USDA to withdraw or modify the rule so that it protects access to necessary food and nutrition programs and adheres to the bipartisan policies implemented in the recently-passed 2018 Farm Bill.