Tell Members of Congress you Oppose Cuts or Changes to SNAP
Our members of Congress are considering making harmful changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as FoodShare in Wisconsin). 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 to their friends and neighbors trying to get their lives on track.
Tell your members of Congress and the President that you oppose making harmful changes and cuts to SNAP that would increase the risk of hunger for Wisconsinites!
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 House Budget Resolution does to nutrition assistance programs
The resolution that passed the House Budget committee envisions $4.4 trillion in cuts to mandatory programs over the next decade, including at least $203 billion in cuts in this resolution using a fast-track process called reconciliation that would force cuts to important programs.
This includes an instruction to the House Agriculture Committee to find $10 billion in cuts, with reports that cuts would come from SNAP.
Beyond those required cuts, the resolution assumes an additional $150 billion in cuts directed at SNAP based on block grants that would break our national commitment to nutrition assistance.
These cuts overall are a real threat to low-income Americans who rely on these programs.
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 $800 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 a little less than 1/8 the size of the FoodShare program.
If these cuts are implemented at the scale that has been proposed, it would amount to about a 20% cut to benefits for people living in Wisconsin, or about $170 million. That means that the charitable food network in Wisconsin would essentially have to double 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 100% 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.
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