The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service has proposed a rule that would revise categorical eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formally known as food stamps.
Specifically, the proposal would provide categorical eligibility only to those who have qualified for ongoing and substantial benefits from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funded programs. It would cut-out a significant number of our residents who depend on SNAP and TANF to bridge the gap when self-sufficiency is not possible.
On Monday, September 23, the National League of Cities (NLC) submitted comments to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, arguing that the proposed changes would have a directly negative impact on the economic vitality of our communities, including the health and well-being of residents; as such, NLC asks that the proposed rule be reconsidered.
While this rule is an effort ensure only those who truly need SNAP resources receive them, across-the-board elimination of categorical eligibility would pose significant challenges to cities, towns and villages across the country.
This proposed rule is the second proposed change to the SNAP program from the USDA in the last six months. In April, the administration proposed to modify waiver standards for SNAP as it pertains to able-bodied adults without dependents. Specifically, the rule made changes to work requirements for those accessing SNAP.
NLC also submitted comments on this rule and noted, “While there remains concern about maintaining jobs and hours during challenging economic times, even during strong economic times documenting work can be a roadblock towards receiving benefits. While this process may appear straightforward, countless individuals who receive SNAP benefits do so with temporary employment status and/or possess barriers to maintaining work such as, low educational attainment, criminal justice histories and caregiving challenges…. Should this proposed rule move forward, these restrictions would impede an individual’s ability to reach their full economic potential, place strain on local food pantries and cause long-lasting harm to local economies, including impacts on local grocery stores.”
NLC will meet with the USDA to ensure that they understand the local impact of these rules. For more information on what NLC is doing with cities, towns and villages on SNAP, visit our CHAMPS initiative resource page.
About the Author: Stephanie Martinez-Ruckman is the Program Director for Human Development at the National League of Cities. Follow Stephanie on Twitter @martinezruckman.