The Trump Administration has proposed a change that will affect the way in which states determine who qualifies for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program, known as SNAP and food stamps. The proposal tightens restrictions and closes a “loophole” that allows states to continue to give benefits when a family’s gross income exceeds a certain level. Another “loophole” closure is ending the automatic eligibility of SNAP for residents who already qualify for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). This change would require families who receive TNAF to go through a secondary review of assets and income to determine future SNAP eligibility. The most devastating component of the proposal affects children’s free lunches. With this change, school children would have to apply separately to continue to receive free lunches, in comparison to the current policy which automatically qualifies children in families receiving SNAP. There are currently 36 million people who receive monthly SNAP benefits and 265,000 school children.
This change specifically affects lower income families that are receiving SNAP benefits that exceed poverty guidelines or $33,475 for a family of four. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture an estimated 3 million people could lose food stamp benefits under this proposal. In addition to the lower income families that will be affected, the proposal will also negatively impact many seniors and individuals with disabilities should their assets exceed $3,500.
Supporters of the current system highlight the discretion the current policy gives to states and how it is instrumental in allowing working low-income families continue to receive benefits through their transition into a higher income bracket. Additionally, cries for protecting children, people with disabilities, and the elderly have gained support as advocates push for continued access to the benefits to our most vulnerable populations. The Trump Administration’s continuous goal is to cut cost where possible. This change is expected to save $2.5 billion a year by removing people from SNAP. This proposal has a 60-day public commenting period after it is officially introduced, before it makes it way to lawmakers. Such a proposal will only result in the worsening of hunger and food insecurity across the nation.
- Children’s Defense Fund : A national children’s advocacy group committed to ensuring the protection of children and promoting their growth & development.
- CLASP : A national, nonpartisan, anti-poverty nonprofit advancing policy solutions for low-income people.
- Feeding America : A national organization whose goal is to provide food access to millions through food banks and food panties.
Photo by Hush Naidoo