March 27, 2019

The President’s Groundhog Day Budget came out later than it is due to Congress, and after Groundhog Day, but is no less Groundhog-ish because it was late. Like Phil Connors (aka Bill Murray) in the film Groundhog Day, the President’s fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget is caught in a loop, repeating many of the worst ideas from past years when it comes to public policy for low-income Americans.

FRAC’s analysis of the President’s proposed budget underscores its failure to recognize the critical role of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), child nutrition programs, and other safety net programs in protecting the most vulnerable from food insecurity and poverty.


Despite the overwhelming evidence suggesting that SNAP lifts and keeps millions of low-income people out of poverty — helping to improve a broad range of health and economic outcomes — the budget proposes SNAP spending cuts equaling $220 billion over the next 10 years.

Notable cuts:

  • $127.8 billion would come from resurrecting the “America’s Harvest Box” idea from the FY 2019 budget. The proposal would replace some SNAP benefits with pre-packaged, standardized food boxes of inconsistent nutritional quality. The boxes would be delivered by states through unspecified means, limiting SNAP recipients’ ability to make appropriate dietary purchases at places where people normally buy food.
  • $45.1 billion would come from breathing new life into a harmful change rejected in the bipartisan 2018 Farm Bill that would unfairly tighten restrictions on unemployed and underemployed SNAP recipients who can’t document sufficient weekly work hours, threatening their access to food assistance.
  • $3 billion would come from eradicating the minimum monthly SNAP benefit — currently $15 — which would particularly exacerbate rates of senior hunger.

Collectively, these cuts and others would fuel rates of hunger and poverty in the U.S.

Child Nutrition Programs

President Trump’s budget aggressively targets the most vulnerable among us — our children. The budget calls for cutting child nutrition program funding by $1.7 billion over the next 10 years.

Notable cuts:

  • $1.2 billion would come from decreasing the number of schools eligible for implementing the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) — a powerful tool that allows high-poverty schools to offer school meals at no cost to all students.
  • $482 million would come from changing the verification process for school meal applications, which would create new barriers for schools seeking to provide eligible students with access to free and reduced-price school meals.

Such cuts jeopardize the school meals that millions of children rely on to receive nutritious food, be healthy, and succeed in the classroom.

Other Federal Safety Net Programs

On top of mean-spirited cuts to SNAP and the child nutrition programs, the budget slashes funding to other supports that provide a leg up for low- and moderate-income people, including low-income housing programs, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), and Medicaid.

The proposed ideas will leave gaping holes in our nation’s safety net that states and the charitable sector will not be able to close.

The current Administration had an opportunity to offer new and innovative ideas that would dramatically improve food security, drive down poverty, boost health outcomes, increase productivity, and help children do well in school. Instead, as the pillars of an adequate standard of living – access to nutritious foods, affordable housing, better jobs, affordable health care, etc. – become increasingly out of reach for low-income people, the President’s budget recycles a patchwork of disastrous policy ideas.

Read our full analysis of the President’s FY 2020 budget.