CHN: Advocates Respond to Proposal to Take SNAP Away from Millions

More than 75,000 comments were submitted in response to a proposed rule that would take SNAP/food stamps away from 3 million people and jeopardize more than 500,000 children’s access to free school meals. The rule, proposed by the Trump Administration’s Department of Agriculture, would roll back states’ ability to tailor their SNAP income and asset limits to help more low-income households. According to the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), the option, known as “broad-based categorical eligibility,” allows states to screen families with gross incomes slightly above 130 percent of the poverty line to determine if their net incomes would make them eligible for SNAP benefits. Categorical eligibility has been a success for more than 20 years, and more than 40 states have adopted it to streamline the process for participating in federal nutrition programs and to make SNAP more responsive to the needs of low-income families.

Congress has repeatedly rejected proposals to roll back the option, including most recently in the bipartisan 2018 Farm Bill. Advocates see the proposed rule as an attempt to sidestep Congress and attack struggling Americans. SNAP advocates expect the number of comments submitted will climb significantly as additional comments submitted before the Sept. 23 deadline are processed. CHN created a portal to make the process of submitting comments easier; through CHN’s portal, 8,513 comments were submitted. CHN also submitted comments opposing the rule. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is obliged to take into account comments submitted, although they do not have to make the changes recommended. If there are lawsuits against the proposal, courts often pay attention to the comments. For more information about the proposed rule, see this piece from FRAC.