Public Statement on New USDA Proposed Rule

Media contact:
Catherine Drennan

“The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) sees firsthand how the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps people put food on their tables every day. We know SNAP is a lifeline for millions of Americans, so we strongly oppose the administration’s current effort to reduce this assistance that helps so many people we serve. The proposal announced on July 23, 2019 would restrict states’ flexibility to administer SNAP in a way that fits each state’s unique population and economic circumstances.

“This latest attack on struggling Americans once again sidesteps Congress by eliminating SNAP’s broad-based categorical eligibility option, which allows states to streamline the SNAP enrollment process for working households with slightly higher incomes that still experience financial hardship. This state option has been fully vetted by administrations and Congress for more than 20 years and was most recently upheld in the bipartisan 2018 Farm Bill.

“SNAP is the first line of defense for food-insecure households. Restricting ‘Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility’ (‘Cat El’) would eliminate SNAP benefits for 90,000 people in Massachusetts by the MA Department of Transitional Assistance’s own estimates. It would also take free school meals away from hundreds of thousands of children whose enrollment is linked to their families’ SNAP participation.

“In short, the proposed rule would increase food insecurity for millions of children, seniors and working families while putting additional strains on hunger-relief organizations. Currently, for each meal provided by Feeding America food banks, SNAP provides nine meals. Private charity and emergency food assistance simply cannot compensate for the impact of cuts to the SNAP program.

“The proposed rule would also leave states less able to cushion the blow for households whose economic circumstances are suddenly upended by a natural disaster or economic downturn. By complicating the administration of SNAP, this rule would make the program less efficient and more expensive–ultimately harming individuals who need assistance.

“We urge the administration to rescind the rule and instead work to increase SNAP participation, so more families can worry less about putting food on the table and focus more on getting back on their feet.

“GBFB encourages people to submit comments opposing the rule via our comment platform. The public has until September 23, 2019 to generate comments on this proposal, a process in which GBFB will actively participate. It is imperative that the administration hear just how dangerous this proposal is to the health and well-being of our neighbors in need.”

Catherine D’Amato, president and CEO, The Greater Boston Food Bank
The Greater Boston Food Bank is the largest hunger-relief organization in New England serving Eastern Massachusetts and a member of Feeding America.
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