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The attack on SNAP food aid is far from over.
After staving off cuts to SNAP in 2018 and 2019, the Trump administration now wants to change the way states determine who qualifies for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The change could take away food from 3 million people, according to health experts.
“This rule would take food away from families, prevent children from getting school meals, and make it harder for states to administer food assistance,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and the Senate Agriculture Committee told NPR.
USDA is asking for public comments on SNAP until Sept. 23, 2019.
1. Copy one of our Salud America! model comments. Tweak the parts in green:
SNAP HAS WORTH
I am a NAMEOFPROFESSION in NAMEOFPLACE. I greatly value the SNAP program in my community and for others in-need. It is well-known that SNAP improves the economy & helps families overcome poverty, according to a Salud America! Research Review. According to the USDA Economic Research Service evaluation, it is estimated that each $1 in federal SNAP benefits creates $1.79 in economic activity; that profit helps many food retailers operating on thin margins to stay in business. It also increases food access for Latino and all people. Additionally, the proposed rule will make it extremely difficult for families to work their way out out of poverty. ADD A PERSONAL STORY.
SNAP HELPS COUNTLESS OF FAMILIES
Families in NAMEOFPLACE need SNAP. ADD A PERSONAL STORY. SNAP is vital to lift millions out of poverty, according to a Salud America! report. SNAP is an essential part in tackling hunger and food insecurity in our community. This proposal makes Americans hungrier. It is the first line of protection against hunger for low-income citizens, communities of color, including Latinos, and all vulnerable people.
SNAP CUTS WOULD HURT INDIVIDUALS
Any alterations to SNAP should increase access to affordable, nutritious food, especially for the most vulnerable in NAMEOFPLACE. This suggested cut to SNAP is inequitable, according to reports by the Food Action & Research Center and Salud America!. It harms susceptible populations, including Latinos and other minority groups, by blocking food benefits at a time when they most need it. ADD A PERSONAL STORY.
3. Add your info.
What Are the Proposed Changes?
USDA proposes to close a “loophole” called the “broad-based categorical eligibility” option. This enables to states to give benefits to those who would not otherwise be eligible by raising or eliminating income and asset limits needs to be closed.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the closing the loophole would save money and protect the integrity of the program.
“The American people expect their government to be fair, efficient, and to have integrity – just as they do in their own homes, businesses, and communities,” Perdue said in a statement. That is why we are changing the rules, preventing abuse of a critical safety net system, so those who need food assistance the most are the only ones who receive it.”
However, some disagree.
The Food Action & Research Center (FRAC) said the “broad-based categorical eligibility” option allows states to streamline the process for households with slightly higher incomes that still experience financial hardship to participate in SNAP.
“This option for states has been fully vetted by administrations and Congress for more than 20 years, and was most recently upheld in the bipartisan 2018 Farm Bill,” according to a FRAC news release. “This latest attack on struggling Americans once again sidesteps Congress.”
Who Is Affected by the Changes?
FRAC says the proposed rule will particularly harm working families with children whose net incomes are below the poverty line. Latinos have high rates of poverty.
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.
“These are working families who are just above SNAP’s income cutoff,” Stacy Dean, vice president for food assistance policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, told NPR.
“What the [current system] does is say to workers that if you want to work a few more hours, you don’t risk losing SNAP because you take the extra shift. So it’s promoting work.”
Other programs that could be adversely affected during this process include:
- Student loan forgiveness for teachers in low income schools
- Summer and after school meal sites for kids
- The Fresh Fruit and Veggie Grant Program for low income elementary schools
- E-rate programs for school and library technology
Reports also show that, if SNAP were to be cut, Latino health would suffer.
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
Check out these SNAP stories of how the program has benefited families.