Farm Bill would slash funding for food aid: Tell your Rep. hands off!
More than 1.4 million Ohioans in nearly 700,000 households rely on federal food assistance to get by. And with many of Ohio’s most-common jobs paying wages so low that a family of three would need help affording food, we can expect this number to grow.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, makes sure children, seniors, people with disabilities and low-wage workers have enough to eat. It’s the nation’s most effective and flexible anti-hunger program and also helps support the economy during recessions. Until recently, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle supported making sure all Americans don't go hungry.
But the Federal Farm Bill moving through Congress this month cuts food aid by more than $17 billion over 10 years. Much of that money would be diverted to a risky new scheme of ineffective work programs and unforgiving penalties that would take away food assistance from those who don’t meet sweeping, expanded work requirements. It also imposes new state mandates, rolls back flexibility and increases barriers for eligible families to access healthy food.
Today, concerned Americans across the country are reaching out to their U.S. Representatives and asking them to vote against the House Agriculture Committee Farm Bill (known as HR 2). Join them by using Feeding America’s toll-free number’s (888-398-8702) to connect with your representative.
Here are some the Farm Bill’s key flaws:
- It would increase the age of adults subject to work requirement to 59 for those not raising children under six. Older adults face additional challenges to finding employment.
- It harms unemployed workers trying to get back on their feet. The Farm Bill includes stiffer penalties for not meeting work requirements. A working-age adult who doesn’t meet the work requirement for one month would be made ineligible for SNAP benefits for 12 months and 36 months for subsequent violations.
- The Farm Bill limits categorical eligibility, which streamlines the process of qualifying for food assistance for recipients of other public benefits like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Supplemental Security Income. Children who receive food assistance are categorically eligible for free and reduced school lunch. Eliminating categorical eligibility could make it harder for hungry children to qualify for free and reduced lunch.
- The bill would make it harder for children to access food assistance. Under this proposal, custodial parents would be required to open a case for child support, even if they have an informal arrangement that works better for their family. If parents cannot comply, a family’s food benefit would be reduced.
Instead, members of the House should pass a Farm Bill that makes sure working people, children, elderly people, people with disabilities and others can obtain healthy food. The bill should:
- Prevent additional work requirements that would make it harder for older adults to access food. SNAP should be responsive to workers facing low wages, unpredictable scheduling and unemployment.
- Preserve access to waivers for high unemployment areas. SNAP provides an important safety net for unemployed and under-employed workers. People should not be punished because their communities don’t have enough good jobs.
- Preserve categorical eligibility. Do not create additional administrative barriers for people trying to access food assistance.
- Maintain benefits for children. Parents should not be required to cooperate with Child Support Enforcement to receive benefits because it unlikely to reduce food insecurity for children.
Want more ammunition for your call? Check out our Congressional District fact sheets for more information on food assistance in your community. Call 888-398-8702 and tell your representative not to take food off Ohioans’ tables.