SNAP rule change cuts aid

Read our statement about the Trump Administration’s decision to cut aid to vulnerable adults.

Statement
Adele LaTourette
Director Hunger Free New Jersey
Dec. 5, 2019

Yesterday, the Trump administration issued a final rule that would weaken the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — the nation’s first defense against hunger — and take food off the tables of nearly 700,000 people, many of whom struggle to find sufficient hours of work in areas with few jobs.

“This rule change will surely increase hunger in New Jersey,’’ said Adele LaTourette, director, Hunger Free New Jersey. “These folks are among the poorest of the poor and usually ineligible to receive any other government assistance. Often, SNAP is the only help they receive. To deny this basic help to our most vulnerable residents is unconscionable.’’

Background

In 1996, when Congress enacted time limits on SNAP (then called food stamps) for certain adults who were unable to document sufficient hours of work each month, Congress provided that states could request from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) waivers on the time limits for areas with too few jobs.

The area waivers are important, although insufficient, safety valves for protecting food assistance for persons who are seeking but unable to find sufficient hours of work. In the decades since, USDA has followed the decision of Congress and processed area waiver requests from governors of both political parties based on accepted economic factors and metrics.

The administration has now arbitrarily narrowed states’ ability to waive the time limit in many areas with insufficient jobs. This action flies in the face of congressional intent, coming almost a year after Congress passed the Farm Bill that left the current area waiver provisions in place.

Most provisions of the rule are slated to take effect on April 1, 2020, unless Congress or the courts act to stop or delay it. If the rule is implemented, the nation would see higher rates of hunger and poverty.

The final rule would cause serious harm to individuals, communities, and the nation while doing nothing to improve the health and employment of those impacted by the rule. In addition, the rule would harm the economy, grocery retailers, agricultural producers, and communities by reducing the amount of SNAP dollars available to spur local economic activity.

SNAP plays a critical role in addressing hunger and food insecurity in all corners of the country. With this rule, the administration sets out to weaken this proven program instead of strengthening it by providing more adequate benefits. Hunger Free New Jersey and its many partners will continue to advocate against this deeply flawed and ill-conceived policy change.

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