In Focus: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Nov 27, 2013 | Permalink »
Time to Carve Turkey, not SNAP
By Helly Lee
Thanksgiving is the ultimate food holiday. Many Americans will travel far and near to celebrate with friends and family around dinner tables filled with elaborately prepared food. However, for many low income families, the holidays are an especially difficult time. Many struggle to provide the basics for their families, let alone a celebratory Thanksgiving feast.
For over 22 million low income families, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides support to ensure access to food. The average SNAP benefit of $1.50 per person, per meal barely covers a third of what an average serving of Thanksgiving dinner could cost. Yet, even these modest benefits are effective in reducing food insecurity. SNAP is also responsive to the economy, expanding to help those in need and boost the economy in downturns and contracting as the economy recovers and the needs are less. In fact, as the economy continues to slowly recover, SNAP costs have already started to fall.
However, SNAP continues to face deep cuts in Congress. Earlier this summer the Senate passed a farm bill that would cut $4 billion from SNAP over 10 years. The House-passed bill proposes to take an even more drastic bite out of SNAP, cutting over $40 billion over 10 years. The House cuts would take away SNAP benefits from 4 million people, including children and seniors. In addition, these massive reductions would make it harder for unemployed workers to receive benefits -- even if they were willing to work but are simply unable to find jobs -- and the cuts would also make SNAP less responsive in the next recession. This is a double hit on long-term unemployed workers, who face the added loss of federal extended unemployment benefits at the end of December.
Nov 01, 2013 | Permalink »
SNAP Benefits Decline for Low-Income People; Cuts Highlight Importance of Nutrition Aid
Starting today, 47 million people who receive food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), including 22 million children and 9 million elderly and disabled people, will see a five percent cut in their monthly SNAP benefits. These cuts add up to an estimated $11 billion over three years. Moreover, households receiving SNAP could see even deeper cuts as a Congressional conference committee works to reconcile the House and Senate Farm bills.
On Wednesday, House and Senate members met for the committee’s first session. During opening statements, Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA) reminded Farm Bill conferees that, as a result of the cuts taking effect this week, “families will have 16 fewer meals per month…We must not make a bad situation even worse by piling on even deeper cuts.” Across the aisle, Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) also drew attention to the importance of SNAP, explaining that “our nutrition assistance program plays a key role in ensuring that needy Americans have access to the food they need to lead healthy, productive lives.”
The House and Senate bills are far apart, but both contain cuts to SNAP. The Senate passed bill (S. 954 contains $4.1 billion in cuts to SNAP over ten years. The House nutrition bill (passed last month as H.R. 2642 proposes approximately $40 billion in cuts to SNAP over ten years. Moreover, the House bill includes harsh provisions that would deny SNAP benefits to unemployed workers even if they were willing to participate in employment search activities; reinstate antiquated asset limits; allow suspicionless drug testing of recipients; and further penalize ex-offenders who have paid their debt to society. Farm Bill conferees are now tasked with reconciling these very different proposals and passing legislation. Because the legislation contains critical provisions on agriculture, there is great pressure for the House and Senate conferees to act before the end of December.
SNAP is an effective work supports program that helps unemployed and low-wage workers; boosts local economies and; significantly improves children’s long-term health, educational, and economic outcomes. Congress must pass a bill that does not weaken this critical safety net program.
Sep 23, 2013 | Permalink »
Taking Food from the Mouths of Children
This post originally appeared on September 23, 2013 on the Youth Today Website.
A coincidence of timing last week highlighted the contrast between the needs of hungry families in America and the political will in Washington to help them. On Tuesday, the U.S. Census reported that in 2012, 15 percent of people in America, and 21.9 percent of children, had household income that put them below the official poverty line. On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted for a bill, H.R. 3102, that would deny nutritional assistance to millions of individuals and cut benefits for others.