Help Us Stop Harmful Cuts to SNAP
Proposed Changes to SNAP Threaten Food Access for Working Families, Seniors and
People with Disabilities
On October 3, USDA published another proposed rule that would cut SNAP benefits – this time a total of $4.5 billion over five years. The cut would result from changes in how states take households’ utility costs into account in determining the amount of SNAP benefits for which they qualify.
Policymakers recognize that household resources needed to pay for basics such as shelter, utility costs and childcare are not available to purchase food. Under current law, SNAP takes these basic costs into account, including the utility expenses of each SNAP household. States adjust household benefits based on a state-specific Standard Utility Allowance (SUA) calculated by the state and approved by USDA. The current policy allows variances in SUAs to accommodate for differences in utility costs and rates and allows states flexibility in how they calculate those costs.
The proposed rule would standardize and cap SUA calculations across the country based on survey data. The Administration concedes that the proposed rule would cause 19 percent of SNAP households to get lower SNAP monthly benefits, would disproportionately impact elderly people and people with disabilities, and would cause a national net cut to SNAP benefits amounting to $4.5 billion over five years.
Congress reviewed SNAP policy very recently during the 2018 Farm Bill, including the fact that states have options under that may produce differences in SNAP eligibility benefit amounts from state to state. Although the President’s FY 2020 Budget included a request for a change similar to the proposed rule, Congress did not include such a change in the 2018 Farm Bill.
Ultimately, changes like this cut benefits for our most vulnerable neighbors – benefits that are already incredibly modest already. In FY17, the average per meal SNAP benefit received in Missouri was $1.34. Process improvements can and should be considered for programs like this one, but not at the expense of the families who rely on SNAP to keep food on the table.
We Need Your Help Once Again!
People from all walks of life rely on SNAP food assistance to afford groceries as they work to pay other bills. Without food assistance programs, they may go hungry. The St. Louis Area Foodbank is committed to a vision of our region where no one goes to bed hungry, so we’re taking action. As part of the Feeding America network of 200 food banks serving every county in this country, we are raising our voice in opposition to this rule, and we hope you’ll join us.
The best way for you to stand up against this harmful rule is to provide a comment and share with the Administration why you oppose their rule. Every unique comment will be read and considered, so we need as many people as possible to speak up today. Please, add your comment right here, right now while you’re thinking about it. Comments are due on or by December 2nd.