Act today: Tell Congress that cutting SNAP benefits is not the answer

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives could vote as early as tomorrow on devastating cuts to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as Food Stamps). 

The bill would cut the nutritional safety net program by $40 billion over the next ten years, doubling the proposed $20.5 billion cut that was removed from the House’s version of the Farm Bill earlier this summer. This cut is nine times worse than the proposed cuts that were included in the Senate’s version of the Farm Bill.
 
The proposed cuts could cause up to 6 million people to go hungry, including extremely poor childless adults, families with adults working very low-wage jobs, children, veterans and seniors. Proposed changes to the program include:
 

  • Eliminating states’ ability to get waivers for childless, unemployed adults living in areas of high unemployment. These individuals would be limited to receiving SNAP benefits for only three months out of every three years, despite having an average income of only $2500 each year.
     
  • Ending broad-based categorical eligibility provisions which allowed states to set higher asset limits on the program, or eliminate them all together. Illinois removed asset limits for SNAP and just this year removed the asset limit test for TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) eligibility. Adding asset tests back into SNAP would impede streamlining and efficiencies across programs.
     
  • Providing an incentive for states to remove families from SNAP if parents cannot find a minimum of 20 hours of work or job training per week. States would be allowed to keep half of the money saved by removing families from the program and use it for any purpose. Additionally, states that do not participate in this process would lose all federal matching funds they currently receive for SNAP job training and employment programs.

 
If passed, these cuts would result in the loss of SNAP benefits for 182,000 Illinois residents and loss of significant revenue to local food retailers across the state. Removing vulnerable individuals and families from the SNAP program is the wrong way to the balance the budget. States across the country, including Illinois, have eliminated asset tests for SNAP and TANF because enabling families to keep even a small amount of savings is better for everyone in the long run. Families should not have to choose between putting food on the table, and ensuring that they will be financially prepared for unforeseen expenses or emergencies down the road.
 
Please take a moment to call your representative today or tomorrow. Tell them to oppose cuts to SNAP and preserve states’ abilities to waive asset tests for their most vulnerable residents. You can look up your congressional representative here and contact their D.C. office. Please email or call Courtney Eccles at 312-368-0310 or ceccles@woodstockinst.org and let her know how your conversation went. 

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