House Farm Bill Proposal Undermines Our Effective, National Response to Hunger

ALBANY NY, April 13– Following the release of H.R. 2, the 2018 Farm Bill by Republican leadership of the House Agriculture Committee, Linda Bopp, Executive Director at Hunger Solutions New York, released the following statement:

“The proposed 2018 Farm Bill would increase hunger and hardship by taking away—or cutting—food assistance from many struggling New Yorkers, including children and their working parents, older adults, seasonal workers, and many people struggling to find consistent work in a continually troubled labor market. SNAP helps 1 in 7 New Yorkers afford groceries and is the first line of defense against hunger.

“Let us be clear. This bill will take food out of the refrigerator and off the table for many New Yorkers.  The most egregious cut comes from the loss of eligibility and benefits for a large number of working families with children who would no longer receive SNAP under expanded eligibility in New York. The proposal creates a much harsher “cliff effect” when a simple .50 cent raise at work could result in the loss of all food benefits at home. In turn, children in these families will be denied access to other essential anti-hunger programs that they are eligible for by participating in SNAP, such as school breakfast and lunch, putting their health and learning at risk.

“What’s more, this proposal dismantles a very successful program that accounts for high heating costs when determining SNAP benefits so that as many as 390,000 households in New York aren’t forced to choose between heat and food.  Following a winter where New York experienced one of the coldest weather patterns on record, this is especially cruel and unwarranted.

“SNAP already includes work requirements for many participants.  While SNAP is not a work program – it is a food program – this bill dramatically expands the number of people subject to these harsh SNAP work requirements by adding unemployed and underemployed parents with older children and adults up to age 60. Currently, time limits apply to able-bodied adults age 18-49 without dependents, many of whom are between jobs or do not have steady enough work to meet the arbitrary 20-hour per week minimum, often for reasons outside of their control. Others face significant barriers to work, such as mental and physical conditions that do not allow them to work 20 hours a week, caregiving responsibilities, homelessness, language barriers, and lack of reliable transportation.

“These bureaucratic requirements would cause a large number of people in our state to fall through the cracks, be deemed “out of compliance,” and lose their basic food assistance.  No amount of reinvestment in an employment and training bureaucracy can make up for this assault on the (already limited) food budgets of hungry people.

“For 40 years, SNAP has ensured that Americans don’t go hungry and throughout this history, policymakers have made most reforms and improvements to SNAP on a bipartisan basis.  The Conaway proposal stands in sharp contrast and represents a missed opportunity – putting critical nutrition programs at risk for 2.9 million New York residents.”

###

If you would like more information on SNAP and the Farm Bill, please contact Sherry Tomasky, Public Affairs Director for Hunger Solutions New York at (518) 414-2570 or at [email protected]. Also visit our comprehensive page on this topic https://hungersolutionsny.org/snap-policy/.