The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proposed changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program that would put over 50,000 Marylanders at risk for losing the benefit. The most vulnerable include seniors and children.
WBAL reports on the proposed rule change:
The Agriculture Department issued a proposed rule Tuesday that curtails so-called broad-based categorical eligibility, which makes it easier for Americans with somewhat higher incomes and more savings to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, the formal name for food stamps.
Broad-based categorical eligibility allows states to streamline the food stamps application process for folks who qualify for certain benefits under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Some 40 states, plus the District of Columbia, use this option, which lets them eliminate the asset test and raise one of the income thresholds.
At a press conference on Thursday, Baltimore City Mayor Jack Young discussed a letter the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) sent to the administration opposing the change. Mayor Young is a co-chair of the USCM Food Policy Taskforce. NPR has published a copy of the letter that was signed by over 70 mayors.
“SNAP is proven to reduce food insecurity in the most vulnerable populations, help lift residents out poverty, and spur our local and regional economies. Therefore, I oppose any proposed policies that restrict SNAP.”
– Mayor Bernard C. Jack Young (@mayorbcyoung), August 22, 2019
A press release from Mayor Young’s office highlights the ways Baltimore City would be affected:
- Escalate Food Insecurity: In Baltimore, 166,000 residents receive SNAP each month. Based on USDA’s national estimate, approximately 9%, or 15,000 Baltimoreans, will no longer be eligible for SNAP.
- Disproportionately Impact Older Adults: 13% of households receiving SNAP with one or more older adults would lose benefits, putting seniors in a position of having to choose between food, medication, and housing.
- Exacerbate Child Food Insecurity: For food insecure children, receiving SNAP and eating free school meals are linked to improved school performance, better health, and childhood development. SNAP participation is a factor in school meal reimbursement rates and poverty-based education funding streams at both the state and federal level, such as Federal Title I Funding and Maryland State Compensatory Education and the new Concentration of Poverty Grants. Lower SNAP rates mean fewer resources for school meals and potentially the elimination of universal free meals if the drop in SNAP is significant enough. Additionally, fewer school families in SNAP can result in less money for academics and school-based programming.
- Damage Baltimore’s Food Economy: SNAP is an economic driver for supermarkets, small food stores, and farmers markets in Baltimore City. This is especially true for food outlets in and near Healthy Food Priority Areas, many of which report the majority of their customers pay with SNAP. SNAP has a multiplier effect that bolsters the economy at-large and without it, Baltimore businesses will suffer.
- Increase Healthcare Costs: SNAP participation is proven to save money in the long run on health care costs, both for the participants and for our healthcare systems such as Medicare and Medicaid. SNAP participants incur nearly a quarter less in medical costs than low-income non-participants.
For more information:
Mayor Young Leads USCM Mayors to Oppose Potential Cuts to SNAP (Press Release)