SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program formerly known as “food stamps,” is our nation’s most important anti-hunger program. It lifts millions of people out of poverty. On February 1, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a proposed rule to increase SNAP work requirements. JFNA and the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies (NJHSA) oppose these new proposed requirements. We ask you to join the effort to oppose the rule by filing your own comments by April 2, 2019.
SNAP puts food on the table for more than 41 million low-income participants each month, including older adults, people with disabilities, and children and their parents. SNAP promotes food security, enhances health outcomes, improves child development and learning, fosters employment, lifts households above the poverty line, provides a bridge for households facing temporary setbacks, and stimulates local economic activity. Research demonstrates that SNAP helps struggling households, communities, and local agricultural and retail economies. Hundreds of thousands members of the Jewish community and the clients of our local partner agencies, including JFS and JVS agencies and kosher food banks, depend on SNAP.
After months of negotiations and a protracted legislative process, SNAP was fully reauthorized in the Farm Bill signed by the President on December 20, 2018. Although there was an attempt by some in Congress to impose stricter work requirements for SNAP beneficiaries, those new proposed enhanced requirements were abandoned during the legislative process and SNAP was reauthorized with all of its core provisions intact. Ever since the program was substantially altered as part of the welfare reform debate in 1996, SNAP has required substantial work requirements for “able-bodied” adults, but states could still seek a waiver for these requirements at times and for parts of states when rates of unemployment were high and jobs were unavailable.
Now, despite the full reauthorization and preservation of the SNAP program, the Trump Administration intends to use the rulemaking process to diminish the scope and availability of these work waivers. The Administration had proposed these cuts as parts of its advocacy before Congress but its viewpoint did not prevail. By the Administration’s own reckoning, these changes would lead to the elimination of SNAP benefits for more than three quarters of a million current SNAP beneficiaries, including many served by our agencies.
If a significant number of comments raising concerns about this proposed rule are submitted to USDA, this could help delay the SNAP regulation’s adoption indefinitely. We ask you to participate in our campaign to help stop this regulation by:
- Reading through our draft comment letter, adapting it to reflect the poverty and food insecurity issues in your community, and submitting it through Regulations.gov by April 2, 2019;
- Reaching out to your partner agencies within and beyond the Jewish community that care about food security issues and asking them to submit comments as well;
- Ensuring that your Senators and Representatives know that you have weighed in on this pivotal issue by sending their offices a copy of your comment letter; and
- Sending us a copy of your comment letter.
If you have any questions on SNAP or how to submit comments, please contact Stephan Kline, JFNA’s Associate VP for Public Policy. Thank you in advance for joining us in this effort and for your willingness to submit comments.