Statement attributed to James D. Weill, president, Food Research & Action Center
WASHINGTON, December 4, 2019 — Today, the Trump administration issued a final rule that would weaken the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — the nation’s first defense against hunger — and take food off the tables of nearly 700,000 people, many of whom struggle to find sufficient hours of work in areas with few jobs.
In 1996, when Congress enacted time limits on SNAP (then called food stamps) for certain adults who were unable to document sufficient hours of work each month, Congress provided that states could request from USDA waivers on the time limits for areas with too few jobs. The area waivers are important, although insufficient, safety valves for protecting food assistance for persons who are seeking but unable to find sufficient hours of work. In the decades since, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has followed the decision of Congress and processed area waiver requests from governors of both political parties based on accepted economic factors and metrics.
The administration has now politicized the process, arbitrarily narrowing states’ ability to waive the time limit in many areas with insufficient jobs. This action flies in the face of congressional intent, coming almost a year after Congress passed the Farm Bill that left the current area waiver provisions in place.
Most provisions of the rule are slated to take effect on April 1, 2020, unless Congress or the courts act to stop or delay it. If the rule is implemented, the nation would see higher rates of hunger and poverty. The final rule would cause serious harm to individuals, communities, and the nation while doing nothing to improve the health and employment of those impacted by the rule. In addition, the rule would harm the economy, grocery retailers, agricultural producers, and communities by reducing the amount of SNAP dollars available to spur local economic activity.
SNAP plays a critical role in addressing hunger and food insecurity in all corners of the country. With this rule, the administration sets out to weaken this proven program instead of strengthening it by providing more adequate benefits. FRAC will continue to advocate against this deeply flawed and ill-conceived policy change.
The Food Research & Action Center is the leading national nonprofit organization working to eradicate poverty-related hunger and undernutrition in the United States.