UPDATE (12/4/19): The Trump administration has finalized a proposed rule that could exclude nearly 700,000 people from SNAP assistance by implementing stricter work requirements for this population. Other proposals to further undermine this critical service are still pending, and we must speak up now to defend SNAP benefits.
The Trump administration has proposed a change to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that could exclude over 3 million people from receiving food assistance. A SNAP rule called broad-based categorical eligibility (BBCE) currently allows low-income people to enroll in SNAP if they’ve already qualified for other anti-poverty benefit programs. The rule guarantees access to free school meals for 256,000 children from SNAP-enrolled households. States also have flexibility to waive income and asset limits for SNAP recipients, meaning families don’t suddenly lose SNAP benefits if their wages or savings increase by a small amount. Over forty states have adopted less restrictive income and asset limits for SNAP enrollees, reducing administrative costs and program churn while encouraging low-income families to save. The Trump administration has now proposed a new rule to eliminate BBCE.
The elimination of BBCE would not only harm millions of hungry US residents but also damage the nation’s economy more broadly. Economists have estimated that every $1 spent on SNAP benefits generates between $1.22 and $1.84 in economic activity. SNAP protects working families during economic downturns and creates jobs. While the proposed rule change is subject to public comment, Congress must also condemn this ill-conceived attack on food assistance for vulnerable people.