SNAP (also known as food stamps) is under attack!!
Last week GOP leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives Agriculture Committee introduced a Farm Bill that would increase hunger and hardship by taking away—or cutting—food assistance from many struggling families, including children. This week they are starting debate on the bill.
Here’s what’s happening: Representative Conaway (TX-11), chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, released his Farm Bill proposal last week, which includes sweeping changes to the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or food stamps). The unworkable, harmful, unnecessary, and woefully-underfunded proposal takes SNAP benefits away from people 18-59 years old who are not currently employed or participating in training for 20 hours a week. (There are exemptions for parents of children under 6 years old and parents caring for an “incapacitated” child—but that is it!).
Rather than helping anyone keep a job or find a job, this proposal is designed to create massive red tape that will make it harder for millions of people to put food on the table, including parents raising kids, low-wage workers, and people temporarily between jobs. This red tape is designed to produce massive cuts in SNAP funding in order to pay for the giant tax cuts for billionaires and big corporations that were passed in December.
Considering that SNAP helps 1 in 8 Americans across the country afford groceries and that 1 in 4 children live in food insecure households in America, proposals like this are cruel and only lead to more hunger and suffering —and are bad for our economy.
The entire premise of these new restrictions— that somehow people who use SNAP are lazy — is dead wrong. Fact: Most adults on SNAP work. More than half of SNAP households with at least one working-age, non-disabled adult work while receiving SNAP — and more than 80 percent work in the year before or after receiving SNAP. Among those who are not working, most report illness or disability, caregiving responsibilities, being recently divorced or escaping an abusive relationship, or going to school as a reason for not working.
In other words, these proposed cuts are a direct attack on women, who do the lion’s share of caregiving for children, elderly and family members with disabilities.
This of course all comes on the heels of the $1.9 trillion tax bill passed a few months ago, which gives historic tax cuts to millionaires, billionaires, and mega-corporations, but leaves working families in the dust. There is a direct line between these tax cuts and what Congress is proposing to cut now around SNAP—in order to pay for the tax cuts for the 1% and Wall Street, GOP lawmakers need to find ways to make trillions of dollars in cuts. The health and well-being of our families should not be sacrificed in order to give tax cuts away to President Trump’s cronies.
What should we do instead? Instead of taking away grocery money for struggling families to pay for new risky schemes, Congress should focus on policies that actually help create jobs, boost wages, and protect families.
These new requirements will hurt working families already struggling to balance work and family and make ends meet—and also hurt our economy. Economic analysis shows that there is a high return on investment, in fact, for SNAP because people immediately spend those funds on food in ways that also immediately fuel our economy. Further, requiring documentation of every hour of employment to obtain vital health care, nutrition, and housing assistance creates more red tape headaches for people, especially those who are self-employed, have seasonal jobs, or who are caring from family members and making ends meet through short term informal jobs like babysitting.
There is no evidence that work requirements would even help people get back to work faster—as supporters of this policy falsely claim. Even common sense says that taking food assistance away from struggling households will increase hardship and won’t make it easier for the to find work. Also, these ideas of cutting SNAP are not new ideas. These are old, recycled ideas that have failed to work in the past. Washington state and Louisiana have tried it in the past with Medicaid. It didn’t work. Rather than getting more people back into the workforce, work requirements led to more paperwork and less people receiving the healthcare coverage they desperately need—including many eligible people losing coverage.
Once you take action, make sure to share this blogpost with your friends and family and post our action page to Facebook. This bill is moving quickly through Congress so we need to have as many people as possible speaking out against these harmful policies. Help us have our voice echo through the Halls of Congress!
Thank you for continuing to speak out and protect our families’ health and nutrition!
P.S. Are you currently or have you ever used SNAP? How would an employment requirement affect you and your family? MomsRising wants to hear from you…your experiences with these programs matter! Share your story with us here.
P.P.S. We will be discussing this topic in more detail on Friday, April 20th with nutrition experts during our regular #FoodFri tweetchat from 1-2pmET/10am-11am PT. Join us on Twitter by following #FoodFri!