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SNAP Program – USDA Seeks Comments Deadline April 9th

Posted on the 08 April, 2018 at 5:46 pm Written by in News


SNAP Program – USDA Seeks Comments
Deadline April 9th

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) was designed to reduce food insecurity leading to enhanced nutrition and health outcomes for some our Nation’s most vulnerable populations – low income/low wage families and individuals.  

Through this successful government program, individuals and families from across New England have benefited from improved access to necessary nutrition.  SNAP has long been described as the “cornerstone of the nation’s nutrition safety net” and our rural communities are one of the biggest sectors of Americans that can be hurt by adverse changes to the SNAP program.  The Food Action and Research Center recently reported that, “Households in rural areas and small towns continue to be more likely to receive assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) than their metro area counterparts, according to the Food Research & Action Center’s (FRAC) updated analysis of the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data on SNAP participation. SNAP Maps, FRAC’s interactive data tool, shows that, on average, from 2012–2016, 15.8 percent of rural households and 15.3 percent of households in small towns nationwide participated in SNAP, compared to 12.6 percent of households in metro areas across the country.”   

As we strive to improve the health and well-being of rural communities in New England we must protect the SNAP program.  The Center for Budget Policy Priorities is spearheading an outreach campaign to do exactly that. We encourage you to join us in collaborating with them.

Over the next couple of months we anticipate several opportunities to guide related Federal legislation.  Today, we have an opportunity to help protect the SNAP program by providing our responses to the USDA’s request for input.   

The USDA has requested public comments on whether it should reconsider certain rules that govern SNAP’s 3-month time-limit on childless adults.  Under federal law, SNAP imposes a 3-month time-limit on most childless unemployed and underemployed adults unless they are working 20 hours a week.  Like many others, childless adults often turn to SNAP for assistance when they are no longer able to make ends meets, especially as jobs are lost, hours are cut, or wages hover at the federal minimum.   The group impacted by this rule is extremely poor and often not eligible for other help while unemployed.  You can learn more about them here.

While most of the time-limit rule described above is set in federal law, the USDA did establish some  important state flexibilities. For example, states can temporarily waive the time limit in areas with elevated unemployment.  Currently the rules are very clear which areas qualify for waivers and states have a straightforward and transparent process by which they demonstrate the areas of the state that qualify for temporary waivers.  It appears that the USDA wants to reconsider this process and to make it harder for states to get waivers from the time limit for areas with elevated unemployment. Every state in New England has used waivers at some point since the time limit was enacted in 1996.  We all have a stake in keeping this option available to states.  More information about waivers and their impact can be found here.

Before embarking on rewriting the regulation, USDA is asking the public to tell them if reworking these rules is a good idea.  We agree with the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities that we need to generate lots of comments that make clear any changes that would expose more people to the harsh 3-month time-limit would be harmful, increase food insecurity, and are unwelcome.  Believe it or not, over 300 comments have already been submitted as of March 13 and many were supportive of making the time-limit rule harsher.

The RoundTable will be submitting comments and we encourage you to do so as well through the channels below by Monday April 9.

Here’s how to take action:

1. Your organization can submit comments.  The Center for Budget Policy Priorities developed a template for organizations that can be easily customized to share your organization’s unique perspective.  Download template here.

2. You can ask your grassroots networks to generate comments. In addition to the organizational template above, Feeding America has also created a template that’s more appropriate to individuals. Please use and share their template and online tool.   It’s a terrific simple message that may work for a broader audience.

3. You can encourage other organizations in your communities to submit comments and ask their networks to join our voice as well.

Email: [email protected] • Telephone 603-630-2210
Submitted by Karen Lafayette