Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps, is a federal anti-hunger program that provides benefits to low-income households for purchasing food. In 2011, SNAP served nearly 45 million low-income individuals, almost 75% of whom are families with children. CLASP provides policy analysis and conducts advocacy efforts to expand access of SNAP programs and services for low-income families.
Proposed SNAP Cuts Would Result in Millions of Empty Dinner Tables
Update: The Senate Agriculture Committee debated the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 (also known as the Farm Bill) and voted on amendments on Tuesday, May 14th. The bill, which includes over $4 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), was passed in committee by a 15-5 vote. The bill will next go to the Senate floor for further debate as early as May 20th.
The House Agriculture Committee debated the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act on May 15th. The bill was approved in committee by a vote of 36-10 and is expected to be taken up by the full House in June. The House bill includes $20.5 billion in cuts to SNAP.
This week, both the Senate and House Agriculture Committees will mark up their versions of a Farm Bill that includes provisions on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Despite the program’s effectiveness—helping over 47 million people afford nutritionally adequate meals and make ends meet—and a long history of bipartisan support, SNAP continues to face threats of deep cuts.
The Senate Agriculture Committee is aiming for $23 billion in savings over 10 years with $4.1 billion in cuts to SNAP benefits. These cuts would come from changes to “heat and eat” rules, which allow states to coordinate the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHAEP) with SNAP benefits for those who may otherwise have to choose between maintaining their home energy costs or purchasing food. These changes would result in reduced SNAP benefits for many households, particularly those with elderly and disabled family members who would otherwise receive minimal SNAP benefits. This would come on top of SNAP cuts already scheduled to take effect in November.
In the House, Agriculture Committee Chairman Lucas (R-OK) has indicated that he will be seeking even deeper cuts in the Farm Bill than were proposed last year. And of the $39.7 billion in cuts he is proposing over the next decade, well over half ($20.5 billion) would come out of SNAP. This is a major increase over the $16 billion in SNAP cuts the House proposed in last year’s Farm Bill. In addition to cutting “heat and eat,” the House bill would eliminate broad-based categorical eligibility, a state option that allows the alignment of SNAP eligibility with other low-income programs.