Reducing access to food assistance for citizens returning from incarceration could negatively impact public safety by increasing recidivism, food insecurity, and hunger.
The letter asks lawmakers to reject these provisions when negotiating a final version of the farm bill. The House and Senate each passed a different version of the 2018 farm bill in June, with the Senate deciding not to include similar SNAP provisions in its bill.
The House and Senate are now working through the differences in their bills to reach an agreement on the final version of the legislation.
“If Congress is to achieve the bipartisan goal of improving public safety by reducing recidivism and supporting long-term, successful reentry, food assistance is a critical part of this effort,” the letter states. “We [the undersigned] urge you to reject barriers that make it even more difficult for returning citizens to become fully engaged, productive, and tax-paying members of our society who are able to help care for their families and communities.” The letter also points out that the SNAP food assistance has “had a significant and positive impact on low income individuals reentering the community from incarceration and living under community supervision.”
Roughly 14 percent of Americans participate in SNAP (43.6 million individuals). For many of these folks, including many in the Rust Belt who have lost their manufacturing jobs, SNAP provides a vital lifeline that helps as they attempt to get back on their feet. Forty percent of the households receiving SNAP benefits have a least one working person and 69 percent of them have children.