The House Agriculture Committee’s proposed farm legislation would cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) by almost $21 billion over the next decade, eliminating food assistance to nearly 2 million low-income people, mostly working families with children and senior citizens.
The proposal reduces total farm bill spending by an estimated $39.7 billion over ten years, so more than half of its cuts come from SNAP. The SNAP cuts are more than $4 billion larger than those included in last year’s House Agriculture Committee bill.
The bill’s SNAP cuts would come on top of an across-the-board reduction in benefits that every SNAP recipient will experience starting November 1, 2013. This will put substantial numbers of poor families at risk of food insecurity. NJ is one of the states potentially impacted by these cuts.
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.
Contrary to proponents’ claim that the bill’s SNAP cuts are needed to rein in out-of-control program growth, CBO has found that SNAP’s expansion in recent years is primarily due to the severe and prolonged economic downturn and that SNAP spending will fall significantly as the economy recovers.
CBO projects that the share of the population that participates in SNAP will fall back to 2008 levels in coming years and that SNAP costs as a share of the economy will fall back to their 1995 level by 2019.
Click here to read a report by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).