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SNAP Protections Under Attack After 2018 Farm Bill Signed

December 20, 2018

December 20, 2018 – Oakland, Calif. – Today, the President signed into law H.R. 2, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, known as the 2018 Farm Bill. This legislation reauthorizes essential federal nutrition programs for the more than 40 million Americans struggling with hunger and poverty, and funds our nation’s food and farming systems that are vital to California’s economy.

California Association of Food Banks (CAFB) commends this Farm Bill that continues decades of bi-partisan support for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other federal nutrition programs. Congress rightly deliberated and rejected many harmful provisions that would have taken food out of the mouths of low-income Californians who rely on SNAP. We applaud this bi-partisan effort and those of the 41 food banks and their agencies throughout California who made their voice heard on this matter and work diligently every day to nourish our community members.

SNAP (CalFresh in California) is California’s first line of defense against hunger, providing 12 meals for every one distributed by food banks. The Farm Bill also invests in The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) that is a lifeline for many Californians who are ineligible for SNAP, and expands access to the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) that supports seniors’ health and ability to remain in their homes.

We are pleased that the bill protects SNAP and rejects the harsh cuts proposed by the House Farm Bill that would have worsened hunger across California,” said Andrew Cheyne, CAFB’s Director of Government Affairs.“Nevertheless, the Farm Bill is a missed opportunity to make significant strides against the hunger crisis we face, and we look forward to opportunities in the new Congress to have a real conversation about ending hunger in our nation.”

The benefits from this legislation are already being undercut by the USDA’s proposal, released today, to weaken the inadequate protections for Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWD). The proposed rule would further restrict access to SNAP for hundreds of thousands of low-income Californians potentially subject to the time limit. “Hunger does not help but hinders your ability to find a job,” said Cheyne.

In the next year, we look forward to opportunities to strengthen SNAP and the nutrition safety net that are proven to fight hunger and provide long-term health and economic benefits to communities both here in California and across the country.

2018 Farm Bill Key Provisions:

  • Increases funding for TEFAP food purchases by $206 million over 10 years, helping food banks serve households who are ineligible for SNAP but still struggling with hunger.
  • Reauthorizes TEFAP storage and storage and distribution funding at $100 million per year, which provides essential capacity to transport and keep this food safe and fresh.
  • Provides $20 million over five years to establish the Farm to Food Bank program that will connect food banks to surplus fruits and vegetables.
  • Strengthens program access in CSFP, which provides food boxes to low-income seniors, by allowing states to certify eligible participants for up to three years, beneficial for older adults living on fixed incomes.
  • Although we celebrate these and other improvements, the bill also includes cuts that we oppose.
  • It eliminates SNAP performance bonuses, which in 2014 provided more than $6 million in recognition of California’s increased SNAP participation, enabling our state to reinvest in further improvements.
  • While the bill maintains current law with regard to SNAP work requirements, it reduces the threshold for individual exemptions to the ABAWD time limit from 15 percent to 12 percent, lessening our state’s ability to protect people who are hungry as they struggle to find work. These changes would be complicated by further cuts enacted through proposed regulatory changes from USDA.

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