Statement attributed to Ellen Vollinger, legal director, Food Research & Action Center (FRAC)
WASHINGTON, February 10, 2020 — Once again, the president has proposed a budget that would make steep cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other federal safety net programs, cuts that, if implemented, would harm the health and well-being of millions of people in our country. In the past, Congress has rejected such proposals and should do so again.
The president’s FY 2021 budget reprises the widely ridiculed “America’s Harvest Box” proposal from the FY 2019 and FY 2020 budgets. These pre-packaged, standardized food boxes of varying nutritional quality 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 an inefficient, failure-prone system.
Moreover, these harsh proposals for ten-year SNAP benefit cuts of more than $180 billion are on top of the billions of dollars in ten-year SNAP benefit cuts that the Administration is seeking via rule makings. Together, three proposed SNAP rules changes garnered more than 300,000 public comments in 2019, the vast majority in opposition. The courts should stop those Administration efforts to side step Congress.
President Trump’s budget plan also proposes to cut school meals by $1.7 billion over the next 10 years, as well as undermine Medicaid, housing and energy assistance, and other crucial supports for low- and moderate-income people. Specifically, it would reduce 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 also proposes changes to the process for verifying school meal applications, which would result in eligible students losing access to free and reduced-price school meals.
The budget would hurt children’s access to afterschool suppers and snacks by eliminating federal funding for the Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers, which support over 10,000 afterschool programs that serve 1.7 million children across the country. The change would mean fewer opportunities for children to learn, be active, stay safe, and eat a nutritious meal or snack after the last school bell rings.
Research overwhelmingly shows the critical importance of SNAP and child nutrition programs to economic and food security, health, employment, learning, and productivity — in sum the well-being of tens of millions of low-income Americans. Instead of cutting SNAP, Child Nutrition Programs and other vital safety net programs, policymakers should be strengthening them, including by increasing SNAP benefit levels that currently are grossly inadequate to ensure access to nutrition throughout the month.
For 50 years, the Food Research & Action Center has been the leading national nonprofit organization working to eradicate poverty-related hunger and undernutrition in the United States. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.