CHN urges Trump Administration to withdraw threat to SNAP benefits
The Coalition on Human Needs this week demanded that the Trump Administration withdraw a proposal that would cause more than 3 million Americans to lose SNAP benefits – and many children to lose access to important nutrition assistance programs ranging from school lunch to WIC.
In comments submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, CHN Executive Director Deborah Weinstein emphasized the importance of SNAP as a tool for fighting poverty, and expressed strong opposition to the Administration’s effort to revise Categorical Eligibility, a long-standing option that 40 states use to better serve needy families.
“The proposed rule change would cause serious harm to more than 3 million people nationwide who would lose SNAP benefits, as well as to our economy and our country as a whole,” Weinstein wrote. “I strongly oppose the proposed rule and urge you to withdraw it.”
Midnight Monday was the deadline for submitting comments; more than 78,000 comments were submitted to the government’s Regulations.gov website by the deadline, although SNAP advocates say that figure will climb significantly as additional comments submitted before the deadline are processed. CHN created a portal to make the process of submitting comments easier; through CHN’s portal, 8,513 comments were submitted that are in addition to the total shown at Regulations.gov.
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.
In her letter, Weinstein said that there was no reduction in poverty from 2017 to 2018, according to the Supplemental Poverty Measure, which takes into account rising costs such as housing, child care and out-of-pocket medical expenses on the budgets of low-income people. “Categorical Eligibility has been a means of allowing low-income people to receive SNAP, recognizing that the high costs of housing and work-related expenses leave people with incomes inadequate to cover all necessities,” Weinstein wrote. “Denying states the flexibility to utilize Cat-El will undo some of the anti-poverty effectiveness of SNAP, hurting millions of people, with particular harm to children.”
She said the proposed rule would cut SNAP benefits by $10.5 billion over five years – eliminating SNAP benefits for 3.1 million individuals, including 600,000 people age 60 or over.
“It would punish people with even meager savings,” she wrote. “It would also take free school meals away from the more than 500,000 children in those families. In addition, it would increase the burden on families attempting to access WIC services, particularly in some rural states. Food insecurity – which will be increased under this rule – has a detrimental effect on people of all ages, but is especially harmful to infants, children, and the elderly.”
You can read CHN’s entire comment letter here.