CHN: Nutrition Bill Introduced In the House
On May 3, Representatives McGovern (D-MA) and Emerson (R-MO) introduced H.R. 2129, Feeding America’s Families Act. The purpose of the bill is to highlight nutritional priorities that the bill sponsors and advocates hope will be included when the Food Stamp Program and other nutrition programs are reauthorized in the Farm Bill this year.
The bill calls for improving benefit levels, expanding eligibility, and improving access to food stamps. Over time a typical family of three would receive $37 more each month. The minimum benefit for individuals, stuck at $10 a month for decades, would grow to $32. Legal immigrants now excluded from the program would be eligible. Reporting of income would be simplified. The deduction for child care expenses would be increased and combat pay would be excluded from countable income in determining eligibility for food stamps. Current law requires states to exclude certain ex-offenders from Food Stamp eligibility unless a state takes action to opt out of the ban; H.R. 2129 would foster reintegration into the community by making such ex-offenders eligible unless states specifically opt to exclude them. People would be able to have more assets (with special exclusions for savings for retirement or education) without being disqualified for Food Stamps and more funding would be made available to increase outreach. Currently only 60 percent those eligible for this entitlement program receive the benefits.
The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) is also authorized in the Farm Bill. TEFAP provides USDA commodities to states, which distribute the food through local emergency food providers. H.R. 2129 would increase annual funding for TEFAP from $140 million to $250 million and index it for inflation. In addition, H.R. 2129 reauthorizes the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which provides monthly food packages mostly to low-income senior citizens. The bill also renews the Emerson and Leland Hunger Fellowship Programs.