After staving off cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in 2018 and 2019, a new threat faces the program with controversial proposed changes to the way states determine who qualifies for benefits. SNAP is a proven program to help low-income families rise out of poverty. The changes could take away food from 3 million people, according to health experts.
USDA is asking for public comments on SNAP until Sept. 23, 2019. Scroll down to submit a comment.
What are the proposed changes?
The administration proposes to close a “loophole” called the “broad-based categorical eligibility” option. This option, which is currently utilized by 40 states and Washington D.C., enables states to give benefits to people who would not otherwise be eligible by raising or eliminating income and asset limits.
Currently, the option helps low-income families who work but have huge childcare, housing and other expenses that leave them with insufficient money to buy food by giving states the flexibility to not cut off SNAP benefits as soon as a family’s gross income exceeds a certain level, but to more slowly phase out the food aid.
Congress refused to include the proposed changes to eliminate the broad-based categorical eligibility option in last year’s Farm Bill. The recent proposal by the administration circumvents Congress.
Who would be impacted by the changes?
The Food Action & Resource Center says the proposed rule will particularly harm working families with children whose net incomes are below the poverty line.
The present program automatically qualifies 265,000 schoolchildren for free lunches. But under the new proposal, those children would have to apply independently to continue those meals.
Additionally, the change would eliminate benefits for many seniors and people with disabilities who would be cut off if their assets exceed $3,500, NPR reports.
WHAT CAN YOU DO
- Submit a public comment to the USDA on the proposed changes to SNAP BEFORE SEPTEMBER 23 by clicking here.
More Information: Why does SNAP matter?
SNAP offers temporary support to provide food for people and families, which consist of:
- 34% of SNAP households include seniors
- 23% of SNAP households include children
- 11% of SNAP households include a person with a disability
- Lifts millions of people out of poverty and helps them stay out. SNAP helps recipients avoid poverty and hunger. The program lifted 3.4 million people out of poverty in 2017.
- Boosts children’s health. When children have access to SNAP, from birth through early childhood, their risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and other poor health outcomes later in life greatly decreases. Children on SNAP can immediately experience a reduction in food insecurity.
- Helps children perform better in school. Studies have found improved reading and math skills, and an increased chance of graduating from high school.
- Improves the economy. Every $5 in new SNAP benefits generates as much as $9 in economic activity, helping farmers, grocers, truckers, and other members of local and regional workforces
About 36 million people now receive monthly SNAP benefits. That number has declined steadily since 2013 when it exceeded 47 million. Check out these SNAP stories of how the program has benefited families.