FRAC Statement: Ryan Budget Recycles Failed Proposals for SNAP

Statement attributable to FRAC President Jim Weill.

Washington, D.C. – April 1, 2014 – Sadly, it’s not an April Fool’s Joke. Today, April 1, for the fourth time in as many years, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) has released a budget that slashes deeply the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other low-income programs. He recycles the failed idea of converting SNAP into a block grant, adds the failed attempt to remove low-income seniors and working families from SNAP by ending the state option known as categorical eligibility, and pledges to end the program that links SNAP with energy payments to low-income people.

Ryan has opted to perpetuate myths rather than look at SNAP and how it’s helped millions of people navigate challenging economic times by providing essential food assistance. Here are the facts:

  • First, SNAP reaches the neediest and most vulnerable people in our country, including seniors, children, people with disabilities, unemployed and low-income workers, veterans, and low-paid enlisted active duty military families.
  • About 72 percent of SNAP recipients live in households with children. More than one-quarter live in households with seniors or people with disabilities.
  • 82 percent of all benefits go to households with a child, senior, or person with disabilities.
  • More than $98 million in SNAP benefits were redeemed at military commissaries during Fiscal Year 2012.
  • Half of all new SNAP participants receive benefits for 10 months or less and 74 percent of participants leave the program entirely within two years.
  • The share of SNAP households that work has risen steadily. Over the last decade, the number of households that were working, albeit at typically low wages, while receiving SNAP more than tripled.
  • More than half of SNAP households with at least one working-age, non-disabled adult work while receiving SNAP. This rate is even higher for families with children — more than 60 percent work while receiving SNAP.
  • Nationally, SNAP lifted 4.9 million people out of poverty in 2012.

It’s time for Rep. Ryan and others concerned with the budget to stop asking how much to cut from SNAP, and start asking what is going to help struggling families across this nation and thereby reduce long-term health and other costs. Making benefits more adequate is a start – people can afford healthier food when they have more resources. The SNAP benefit now averages only $1.40 per person per meal and on average, households have less than a quarter of their benefits remaining by the middle of the month. That was true even before across-the-board SNAP benefit cuts affecting more than 47 million people were made in November 2013, as well as additional cuts made by the recently passed Farm Bill. Spending time on old and failed ideas does nothing to advance the fight to end hunger and poverty in this country, and Congress should – as it has in the past – reject this callous budget.

Contact: Jennifer Adach,, 202.640.1118