Hands Off SNAP: Fight Attack on Low-Income Families’ Food Support

///Hands Off SNAP: Fight Attack on Low-Income Families’ Food Support

Despite record-low unemployment rates, Texas continues to be one of the hungriest states in America, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly “food stamps”) is the first line of defense for 3.3 million low-income Texans who rely on it to help feed their families. Now a new rule proposed by the Trump Administration is threatening basic food aid for many near-poor working families, seniors, and people with disabilities.

The Proposed changes to SNAP would eliminate states’ flexibility to adjust the rules based on the needs of their people. It would gut states’ ability to eliminate SNAP asset tests and use a higher income test to serve more working households that have significant expenses for other basic needs, such as shelter and childcare. In doing so, it will produce a “cliff effect” that abruptly takes food support away from low-income families who are working their way up the economic ladder and get a raise or take a new job with slightly higher pay.

For Texas, the proposed rule would be especially damaging. While most adults in Texas are required to work to receive SNAP, this rule would essentially bar people from owning a reliable car or truck to get them to work by imposing an outdated $4,650 vehicle limit. Working Texans could be forced off of SNAP either because their cars are above the limit or because they lose their jobs due to unreliable transportation.

Take action before September 23! CPPP strongly opposes the proposed rule that would cut SNAP food benefits, exacerbate food insecurity, and undermine the positive economic impacts that SNAP has for Texas and the nation.Click here to submit public comments in defense of families needing food assistance.

A Regulatory Impact Analysis by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the rule estimates that 11 percent of households in Texas will lose their SNAP eligibility if the state is forced to roll back the income limit to 130 percent, and a more detailed analysis of the rule’s impact by Mathematica calculates that 15 percent of households in Texas will lose eligibility and it will disproportionally hurt the poor and elderly. Of the 233,000 households in Texas expected to be thrown off of SNAP by this proposed rule, 28 percent contain children, 46 percent have an elderly member and a stunning 74 percent live in poverty. Children who lose their SNAP eligibility will be doubly punished by this rule as they would also lose their automatic eligibility for free school meals. These estimates likely underestimate the impact of the rule as they do not account for the interplay of lowering the vehicle limit and mandatory work requirements.

By USDA’s own estimates, the proposed rule would increase SNAP administrative costs and force Texas to absorb an estimated $100 million in increased costs in the next 5 years. This new unfunded mandate would force state leaders to either cut services or raise taxes in order to balance the state’s budget.

SNAP matters to Texas and the proposed rule would undermine the effectiveness of the program and hurt struggling Texans.

Read CPPP’s comments on the proposed rule change making a revision of Categorical Eligibility in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Rachel joined the center in 2012 with a focus on food and nutrition programs as well as obesity. Before joining the center, she worked for the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) where she was in charge of research and data analysis and authored reports such as the School Breakfast Scorecard, Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation, and State of the States. Cooper also worked for the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), in their New York office, where she focused on helping families gain access to programs that provide work supports, such as tax credits, Medicaid, SCHIP, and food stamps. Cooper received her Masters in Human Development and Social Policy from Northwestern University.