Hundreds of thousands of federal food stamp beneficiaries continue to face uncertainty due to attempts by Republicans and the Trump administration to change eligibility rules for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and delays to dispersal of emergency benefits to citizens living in Puerto Rico.
The Trump administration is once again preparing to propose limits on the federal program, which provides nutritional support to families in need. Currently, federal guidelines allow states to offers families assistance if their annual gross income is 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The new limits, which officials anticipate will be introduce soon, are expected to prevent states from providing food assistance to families earning more than 130 percent of poverty guidelines or $33,475 for a family of four, according to the Washington Post. The administration is also proposing using a lower measure of inflation than the Consumer Price Index, which critics say would further cut people’s access to welfare programs such as SNAP.
At a congressional subcommittee hearing last week exploring the potential impacts of the new U.S. Department of Agriculture rules, Republicans attempted to illustrate that food stamp recipients abuse the federal program under its current rules by bringing in the so-called “Minnesota Millionaire,” named Rob Undersander, to testify. Undersander is an anti-SNAP benefits activist whose modeled himself as a false flag, welfare queen-style distraction by willfully gaming the system in Minnesota to receive SNAP benefits.
Ohio Democrat Martha L. Fudge called Undersander’s testimony on SNAP a “ridiculous millionaire stunt,” while Jim McGovern of Massachusetts called it fraud. However, that didn’t stop networks such as Fox Business from covering Undersander’s sensationalist SNAP story. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that a 130 percent limit could potentially take food assistance away from 400,000 households and prevent 265,000 children from receiving access to free school meals, according to Fudge.
Meanwhile, $600 million in emergency food stamp aid for Puerto Rico still remains in limbo, despite being signed into law more than two weeks ago, the Washington Post reports. Emergency food stamp money originally ran out in March for the island, which is still recovering from Hurricane Maria, and was further delayed by the Trump administration. Officials in Puerto Rico say they aren’t expecting to be able to spend the newly approved funding until September due to issues over federal government dispersal of the funds.
It’s just the latest in a series of attempts to undermined federal nutrition assistance programs. The Trump Administration has repeatedly advocated for work requirements related to SNAP benefits and so-called “Harvest Boxes” — essentially a return to government cheese.
• 400,000 Households Could Lose Food Stamps Under Trump Plan Expected Soon [WaPo]
• SNAP Rules Spark Partisan Bickering [Politico]
• Despite New Law, Trump Administration Has Not Given Puerto Rico Emergency Food Stamp Aid [WaPo]
• Trump Still Wants to Replace Food Stamps With Food Boxes [E]