Georgianna Dolan-Reilly, LMSW

Georgianna Dolan-Reilly, LMSW

Social Justice Solutions | Staff Writer
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FARM Act of 2013 Would Cut Approximately 2 Million People from SNAP Coverage

It seems we’ve reached a serious moment in the fight for food access and food justice in the United States today with a 15-5 vote by the Senate Agricultural Committee in favor of a $4.7 Billion cut to our Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This is a step towards the debate over food stamps and the Farm Bill by both the full Senate and the House of Representatives, and the House’s proposed bill could be even more devastating.

The House’s proposed Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 was released on May 10th  by Rep. Frank Lucas and  Rep. Collin Peterson, both of the House Agriculture Committee, and includes a staggering cut to SNAP . The proposal would cut SNAP by almost 21 Billion dollars over the next decade, leaving approximately 2 Million Individuals without food assistance, and thus access to healthy food options.

According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities:

The majority of the proposal’s SNAP cuts come from eliminating a state option known as “categorical eligibility.”  Congress created this option in the 1996 welfare law, allowing states to provide food assistance to households — primarily low-income working families and seniors — that have gross incomes or assets modestly above federal SNAP limits but disposable incomes in most cases below the poverty line.  The bill also would eliminate SNAP incentive payments to states that have improved payment accuracy and service delivery, would cut nutrition education funding, and would curtail a state option that reduces paperwork for many households with utility expenses and also lowers state administrative costs….

The proposed cuts would cause significant hardship to several million low-income households.

  • The bill would terminate SNAP eligibility for several million people.  By eliminating the categorical eligibility state option, which over 40 states have adopted, the bill would cut nearly 2 million low-income people off SNAP.
  • Several hundred thousand low-income children would lose access to free school meals.  According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), 210,000 children in low-income families whose eligibility for free school meals is tied to their receipt of SNAP would lose free school meals when their families lose SNAP benefits.
  • Some working-poor families would lose access to SNAP because they own a modest car, which they often need to commute to their jobs, especially in rural areas.  Eliminating categorical eligibility would cause some low-income working households to lose benefits simply because of the value of a modest car they own.  Many of these families would be forced to choose between owning a reliable car and receiving food assistance to help feed their families.

SNAP is the difference for many between eating a meal, or going hungry to afford clothing, diapers, or even transportation, and is an essential piece of our countries safety net.  Unfortunately, the proposed cuts above come on the heels of chances that will already decrease the amount of federal food assistance given per person per meal starting in November.

Rather than punishing those influenced by a faulty system, perhaps the House Agriculture Committee, and those across the political spectrum, should address the system in which these individuals must exist. SNAP feeds many, but it only does so because minimum wage doesn’t cover the inflated prices of food in a country whose economic growth is stagnated.

Are many of your clients on SNAP? If so, how do you suspect this will influence them? Don’t forget that you can be their voice and share their stories!

For more information about SNAP please visit the following links:

Infographic on how SNAP cuts will influence children

SNAP basics from the CBPP

State by State Factsheets regarding who Benefits from SNAP Assistance


Written by Georgianna Dolan-Reilly, LMSW
SJS Staff Writer

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