FRAC - President’s Budget Will Cause a Spike in Hunger for Millions

FRAC - May 23, 2017

Media Contact:

Emily Pickren

Statement by James D. Weill, president, Food Research & Action Center

WASHINGTON, May 23, 2017 — “The president’s FY 2018 budget includes an attack on the most important nutrition program for millions of people who live in households that have been left behind in the nation’s ongoing economic recovery.

“The budget proposes $193 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) over the next 10 years. These cuts, which would slash SNAP by an unprecedented 25 percent, will dismantle a proven and effective program that provides a path out of hunger and poverty, and leads to improved diet, learning, productivity, and health.

“The largest reduction would come from a wholly new state cost-sharing requirement designed to create cuts to both benefits and eligibility. It mandates that states pay for a percentage of SNAP benefits (to be phased in, starting with a 10 percent match in 2020 and hitting 25 percent by 2023). This cataclysmic change to the structure of the program would lead states to cut benefits and eligibility in good times, and would eviscerate SNAP’s ability to respond to economic downturns.

“The president’s budget proposal also would reduce the amount of time that unemployed and underemployed adults have to find work before they are no longer able to receive benefits. The budget should instead be focusing on creating a system that offers adequate job and job-training opportunities.

“Other damage to SNAP would come from proposals to: cap benefits for larger households; eliminate the minimum benefit (disproportionately harming seniors); make an eligibility “cliff” worse by prohibiting states from assisting working poor families with incomes over 130 percent of poverty; and creating fees for retailers to participate in the program, likely driving small retailers in underserved communities (such as food deserts) out of SNAP.

“SNAP, along with school meals, afterschool and summer meals, child care meals, WIC, and emergency commodity programs are proven and effective federal programs that are vital to ensuring that struggling Americans — including children, adults, seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, the jobless, and low-wage workers — get the nutrition they need for their health and well-being.

“The president’s budget anticipates nearly 1 in 5 Americans living in households struggling against hunger in FY 2018 (an 18.5 percent food insecurity rate), yet the President’s budget would make hunger even worse in the years ahead.

“The SNAP cuts are proposed alongside other brutal cuts: the budget proposes $800 billion in cuts to Medicaid; $21 billion to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program; and a $40 billion reduction to the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. Shredding these programs, which, along with SNAP and the child nutrition programs, serve as the primary components of our nation’s safety net, will have a devastating domino effect on the food security, health, learning, and productivity of Americans in rural, suburban, and urban areas alike.

“These proposed cuts to SNAP and other safety net programs are unacceptable. FRAC will be working with its network of anti-hunger and anti-poverty advocates to urge Congress to prevent these cuts. Congress must return to its historic bipartisan commitment to protect nutrition assistance programs and reject any budget proposal that abdicates federal responsibility and deprives struggling and hungry Americans of access to nutritious food.”

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The Food Research & Action Center is the leading national nonprofit organization working to eradicate poverty-related hunger and undernutrition in the United States.