Statement attributed to Jim Weill, president, Food Research & Action Center (FRAC)
WASHINGTON, March 11, 2019 — The president’s harsh fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget calls for spending cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) of $220 billion over the next 10 years. Such astronomical cuts will not only increase hunger and poverty, but will worsen health outcomes, decrease the ability of children to do well in school, and lower productivity, all of which will exact a heavy toll on the American economy.
The president’s “Budget for a Better America” reprises the widely ridiculed “America’s Harvest Box” proposal from the FY 2019 budget. Under the very successful current system, SNAP recipients use EBT cards to purchase food at grocery stores, supermarkets, farmers markets, and other normal commercial channels, but under the president’s proposal recipients would instead receive pre-packaged, standardized food boxes of varying nutritional quality. These boxes would stigmatize people struggling to make ends meet by taking away their right to select food for their families, and would not be attuned to families’ particular dietary needs. In addition, the boxes would be administratively costly and create a radical new system that would be inefficient and prone to failure.
The budget proposal also would tighten restrictions on unemployed and underemployed SNAP recipients who can’t document sufficient weekly work hours, which would take away food from an estimated 755,000 people. This will only fuel rates of hunger and poverty by denying vulnerable people nutrition assistance at a time when they most need it. This and other proposals from the President to cut SNAP do an end-run around Congress, which rejected these changes in the comprehensive 2018 Farm Bill.
SNAP serves as the first defense against hunger in this country. The spate of research showing the critical importance of SNAP to economic and food security, health, employment, learning, and productivity — in sum the well-being of tens of millions of low-income Americans — is wholly jettisoned by the president’s proposal to slash and burn the program.
President Trump’s budget plan also takes a hefty swing at the nation’s excellent child nutrition programs, cutting funding by $1.7 billion over the next 10 years. It reduces the number of schools eligible to implement the Community Eligibility Provision, a wildly successful option that dramatically reduces the administrative work of operating the school nutrition programs for high poverty schools and school districts, and increases student participation in school breakfast and lunch. The budget proposal also makes changes to the process for verifying school meal applications, which will create new red tape barriers and result in eligible students losing access to free and reduced-price school meals.
The budget also cuts federal funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Center program. This would eliminate funding for over 10,000 afterschool programs, leaving 1.7 million children across the country with fewer opportunities to learn, be active, stay safe, and eat a nutritious meal or snack after the last school bell rings.
These cuts, on top of massive cuts to Medicaid, housing assistance and other supports for low- and moderate-income people, represent a proposal to abandon some of the best and most important investments in the nation’s greatest resource — its people.
The Food Research & Action Center is the leading national nonprofit organization working to eradicate poverty-related hunger and undernutrition in the United States.