Public Policy & Advocacy

Tell Members of Congress you Oppose the President's Budget Proposal

President Trump's 2018 budget proposal includes an unprecedented $193 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, known as FoodShare in Wisconsin) over ten years. This represents 27% cut to the program and would greatly increase the risk of hunger for the 42 million Americans, including the nearly 700,000 Wisconsinites, participating in the program.

Additionally, the budget also proposes to cut $800 billion from Medicaid, a program that provides healthcare to low-income Americans. Given that 64% of the people utilizing the emergency food system in Wisconsin report choosing between paying for medical and food, we consider Medicaid an anti-hunger program as well.

We are incredibly concerned about these proposed cuts as they would break the promise that Americans have made to provide a basic level of food assistance and healthcare support to their friends and neighbors trying to get their lives on track.

Tell the President and your Members of Congress that you oppose the cuts included in the President's 2018 budget!

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  • Issue Background

    SNAP is the nation’s largest and most effective hunger fighting program, serving 42 million Americans every year by providing targeted food purchasing benefits via EBT cards that are redeemed at grocery stores, supermarkets, and farmers' markets. The average participant is only in the program for just under a year. Its payment accuracy rate (96%) is at an all-time high and its fraud rate (1.6%) is exceedingly low.

    In Wisconsin, known as FoodShare, serves 700,000 of our friends and neighbors by providing them an average monthly food buying benefit of $108 per person. This average monthly benefit ranks 51st out of the 53 United States and territories where the program operates.

    What the President's 2018 Budget does to nutrition assistance programs

    • SNAP cuts: $193 billion in cuts to SNAP, resulting in at least 45 billion meals taken away over 10 years. The proposals would reduce eligibility and benefits and shift significant costs to states
    • TEFAP cuts: $289 million for TEFAP food, which is a $27 million decrease from FY 2017, or a loss of 33 million meals. $54 million for TEFAP Storage and Distribution funds, which is a $5 million decrease from FY 2017
    • $23 million to continue summer EBT demonstration projects at current levels
    • $6.15 billion to fully fund WIC
    • $238 million for CSFP, an increase of $2 million from FY 2017
    • $24.2 billion to fully fund child nutrition programs (school breakfast and lunch, summer and afterschool programs).
    • $800 billion cut to Medicaid over 10 years
    • Reduction to the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit by $40.4 billion over 10 years
    • The budget proposed to eliminate the following programs: WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, School Meal Equipment Grants, LIHEAP, CDBG, CSBG, Emergency Food and Shelter Program, AmeriCorps.

    The effect on the emergency food system

    The emergency food system is not structured to handle need at this scale. Private charities like food banks work in concert with locally administered federal nutrition programs like SNAP to ensure that our friends and neighbors have the care, support, and nutrition they need to work, learn, and live healthy lives.

    In order for the charitable food system to do its job effectively, federal nutrition programs must also keep its promise to provide assistance to the people who are eligible and qualify.

    For example, the FoodShare program brings nearly $1 billion of federal food purchasing benefits to Wisconsin. The total annual value of every last pound of charitable food distributed in Wisconsin is around $130 million. The charitable food system is about 1/8 the size of the FoodShare program.

    If the President’s budget proposal is implemented at the scale that has been proposed, it would amount to about a $250 million cut to benefits in Wisconsin. That means that the charitable food network in Wisconsin would essentially have to triple its entire output in order to replace the missing benefits.

    While we know that Wisconsinites are extremely generous, it is hard to see how we would be able to find so many new donors and programs that would be necessary to grow by 200% in such a short amount of time.

    How can we strengthen nutrition assistance programs?

    Our vision for a thriving Wisconsin is one where everybody has the food and nutrition they need to work, learn and live healthy lives. We believe that there are very real opportunities to strengthen and fine-tune the FoodShare program in order to improve its efficacy and outcomes at fighting hunger, improving health, and strengthening communities.

    Toward this end, we urge legislators to adopt the following principles to ensure that the program maintains its effectiveness and continues to have the flexibility to support families with the food they need to turn their lives around.

    Prioritize policies for natural contraction versus artificial contraction

    There are two ways to reduce program cost. The first is through natural reduction, where people earn enough money through work to become no longer eligible.

    The second is artificial reduction, which occurs after a policy or structural change is enacted that cuts people off the program, leaving them with little or no income and no assistance. 

    Program savings must not be achieved through artificial program contraction but rather through program participants earning enough money to no longer qualify. 

    Ensure High Quality, Cost Effective, Efficient and Data-Driven Administration

    The SNAP program must continue to prioritize program quality, efficiency, cost effectiveness and accessibility to all people in need of food assistance.

    Policies should be pursued that coordinate eligibility and streamline program participation between SNAP and other means tested programs to reduce cost, increase efficiencies and maximize the impact of nutrition programs.

    Any changes to nutrition assistance programs, including those intended to eliminate duplication or increase flexibility, must be data-driven and undertaken only after careful study and analysis of the potential impact on benefit levels, eligibility, and participation.

    Work Training Must Work

    In Wisconsin, only about 13% of single adults without children referred to employment and training programs were connected to jobs. This program needs to be improved. 

    Rather than mandating broad requirements that SNAP participants be engaged in work activities, employment and training investments should provide both meaningful training opportunities and seek to better understand and address the barriers that unemployed and underemployed people experience when attempting to engage with the labor market, such as lack of access to quality childcare or dependable transportation.

    Fine-tuning work training programs should be developed in collaboration with stakeholder input from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, including the clients who utilize these programs.

    Focus on Nutrition through Benefit Adequacy

    SNAP must provide resources sufficient to meet the nutritional needs of participants and any savings from greater efficiencies should be reinvested in improving benefit adequacy.

    Healthful foods like fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy are more expensive per calorie and can be more time intensive to prepare than less healthful, processed foods. While all families balance these choices, families with low-incomes have less flexibility in their grocery bill.

    Highly targeted, tested healthy eating incentives like the Double Up Bucks program that increases the SNAP benefit through the purchase of healthful food is a promising model to increase benefit adequacy while focusing on nutrition.