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California Association of Food Banks Opposes SNAP Cuts in House Farm Bill

April 12, 2018

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway (R-TX) released his 2018 Farm Bill proposal today. The text includes several proposals that will cut or reduce Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits for California’s low-income families, seniors, and low-wage workers and shift those dollars from struggling low-income households to pay for an expensive bureaucracy required to enforce harsh work requirements that will increase hunger and hardship. California Association of Food Banks strongly urges all members of the California Congressional Delegation to oppose any cuts to SNAP and other programs that help lift millions of Californians out of poverty.

SNAP (known as CalFresh in California) is California’s first line of defense against hunger, lifting over four million Californians out of poverty, including two million children. Nationwide, SNAP and the other federal nutrition programs provide 19 out of 20 emergency meals. Food banks already do not meet the remaining need for food in California, and the cuts contained in this draft would worsen hunger and poverty while further overburdening the charity food system.

The Bill includes several proposals that undermine or eliminate the strength, efficiency, and reach of what makes SNAP a success in California today:

  • Would sharply limit categorical eligibility and alter SNAP’s program structure—a measure that would take benefits away from low-income working families with children, exacerbate the cliff effect of promptly kicking households off of the program when households achieve even modest earnings and eliminate their children’s direct connection to free school meals;
  • Would slash benefits for SNAP households struggling to “heat and eat” — to pay for both utilities and food;
  • Would include burdensome and costly requirements on retailers; and
  • Would extend the harsh three-month time limits on people who are unemployed or underemployed by extending the limitation of benefits to older workers and parents with dependent children.

While millions of Californians struggle to afford basic needs, poverty would be much worse were it not for SNAP and other nutrition programs. Federal anti-hunger programs are essential to prevent hunger but also to support the economic vitality of California, particularly rural areas, as benefits are spent and circulate in the community.

It is wrong to take food out of the refrigerators and off the kitchen tables of SNAP households to pay for an expensive and unworkable bureaucracy to enforce harsh rules that will make employment more difficult to achieve as former SNAP recipients go hungry. No reinvestments in an employment and training bureaucracy or other services/grants can make up for this assault on the food budgets of hungry Californians.

The Chairman’s proposal also threatens SNAP’s successful and efficient public-private partnership that drove approximately $12 billion in economic activity last year all while feeding millions of struggling Californians. SNAP, not private charity, is the front-line against hunger. For these reasons, California Association of Food Banks urges lawmakers to reject any cuts, block grants or structural changes to SNAP and other core programs that help lift people out of poverty and work together to produce a unified Farm Bill.

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