Can Our Churches and Food Pantries Feed Four Million More?
By Christine Meléndez Ashley
Late yesterday afternoon, House leadership released the Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act of 2013 (H.R. 3102), which includes nearly $40 billion in SNAP cuts. The House could vote on the bill as early as Thursday, Sept. 19.
If enacted, we estimate almost 4 million people would be taken off SNAP through changes to the program's eligibility rules and work requirements. HR 3102 is the nutrition title of the House version of the farm bill.
Kicking this many people off SNAP will place a greater burden on churches and charities that are already struggling to provide food assistance. They would have to nearly double their current food assistance over the next ten years in order to handle the influx. In 2011, private churches and charities provided approximately $4 billion in food assistance—federal nutrition programs provided 23 times as much.
As in the original House farm bill, about 2 million people would be taken off SNAP under HR 3102, since the bill will make every state use the same income and asset tests, regardless of variations in cost of living or the economies of each state. About 210,000 kids will lose access to free school meals and 850,000 households will have their benefits reduced.
Newer provisions in the House bill take away the ability of states to allow adults without dependents to continue receiving benefits when unemployment is high and jobs are scarce. States can currently waive these requirements when unemployment rates are at least 10 percent or there is a demonstrated lack of sufficient jobs.
Regardless of what happens with this proposal, or any farm bill, every SNAP household will see its monthly SNAP allotment reduced on Nov. 1. Benefits are expected to drop to about $1.40 per meal—a family of 4 can expect to lose about $35 a month.
Email or call your representative today and urge him or her to vote against deep and harmful cuts to SNAP. Use our toll-free number, 800-826-3688, to be connected to the Capitol switchboard or click here to send an email.Christine Meléndez Ashley is a policy analyst at Bread for the World.
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