3 Million Could Lose Food Stamp Benefits Under Trump Administration Proposal

July 23, 2019

The Trump administration wants to change the way states determine who qualifies for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits, also known as food stamps. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 3 million people would lose their food assistance as a result.

The administration says it wants to close what it calls a “loophole” that allows states to give benefits to those who would not otherwise be eligible by raising or eliminating income and asset limits. Forty states and Washington, D.C., now take advantage of this option and have done so for many years.

“This proposal will not only save money, but more importantly it preserves the integrity of the program while ensuring nutrition assistance programs serve those most in need,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in announcing the proposed rule, published in the Federal Register. His agency estimates the change would likely save $2.5 billion a year.

But proponents of the current system say it helps low-income families who work but have huge child care, housing and other expenses that leave them with insufficient money to buy food. States now have the flexibility to not cut off benefits as soon as a family’s gross income exceeds a certain level, but to more slowly phase out the food aid. The current program also automatically qualifies 265,000 schoolchildren for free lunches. Under the administration’s proposal, those children would have to apply separately to continue to get those meals.

“This rule would take food away from families, prevent children from getting school meals, and make it harder for states to administer food assistance,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, the ranking member on the Senate Agriculture Committee. Stabenow noted that Congress refused to include the proposal in last year’s farm bill.

“This proposal is yet another attempt by this administration to circumvent Congress and make harmful changes to nutrition assistance that have been repeatedly rejected on a bipartisan basis,” she said.

The proposed rule change is one of several the administration has made or is considering that restricts safety net programs for low-income individuals and families.

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The public has 60 days to comment on the proposal.  To comment click here.  Don’t know what to write?  Copy and paste this into the comments:  “I do not support the revision of categorical eligibility in SNAP. We need to expand SNAP, not restrict it.”