On December 4th, the Trump Administration made final a policy change that could cut food assistance for millions of Americans.
SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), previously known as the Food Stamp Program, was created 50 years ago to address food insecurity in America. Many studies since then have confirmed its efficiency in reducing hunger. SNAP also allows those in poverty to keep their dignity and autonomy by allowing them to shop at the same outlets and lines as others, and gives the families the freedom to make choices about food purchases. This is one reason why there is a high participation rate in this program, which contrasts with other assistance programs. SNAP is critical for many in poverty, and tens of millions of Americans have used this program at some point in their lives. President Trump’s new proposal will limit SNAP’s current benefits.
The Trump Administration is imposing many limits to the program. This includes putting in a work requirement for able-bodied adults without children. Currently, those people can receive more than three months of food stamps for 36 months without working. Some waivers are given by states in areas with an unemployment rate that is at least one-fifth above the national average. The new policy changes this to waivers being allowed only in areas where the unemployment rate is at least 6 percent. Anti-poverty groups advise against focusing on the unemployment rate because it’s only an overview of the whole economy and not helpful for poor individuals who may lack a high school education and transportation.
The new rules also prevent states from raising gross income and asset eligibility thresholds, which may reduce the incentive for working and saving. Many current recipients of SNAP have gross income above the threshold but have net incomes that fit eligibility, and to remain in the program they may cut their work hours. This also may cut 1 million children from free and reduced lunch. Other modifications include changing the eligibility formulas in a way that would hurt one in five families using SNAP.
These changes to SNAP by the Trump Administration could hurt numerous people.
By Sagarika Pal