Proposed SNAP Rule Threatens the Health of Working Families, Children, Seniors and People with Disabilities

by Corey Malone-Smolla Policy Specialist, Feeding America

Food assistance is at risk–again. Just months after Congress and the Administration debated and reauthorized SNAP through the Farm Bill, the Administration is now proposing to implement, through executive action, a second SNAP benefits cut it failed to secure through legislation. 

This time, the Administration is proposing to gut states’ options to eliminate SNAP asset tests and use a higher income test to serve more working households that have significant expenses for shelter and childcare. The current policy option is known as “Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility” (or “Cat El”). By USDA’s own estimates, the proposal would eliminate SNAP benefits for 3.1 million individuals, take free school meals away from the over 500,000 children in those families, and punish people with even meager savings.  

Feeding America strongly opposes the proposal. USDA should rescind the proposed rule and instead look for ways to strengthen SNAP. 

The proposed rule has serious implications for the health of the people we serve. In USDA’s own words, the rule may “negatively impact food insecurity” among the individuals who no longer meet the SNAP eligibility requirements. Food insecurity has direct impacts on physical and mental health for people of all ages, increasing the prevalence and severity of diet-related disease, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some cancers. Food insecurity is also especially detrimental to the health, development, and well-being of infants, children, and adolescents.  

Individuals who are food insecure —with or without existing medical needs – may use coping strategies to stretch budgets that are harmful for health, such as engaging in cost-related medication underuse or non-adherence; postponing or forgoing preventive or needed medical care; and forgoing the foods needed for special medical diets (e.g., diabetic diets). Not surprisingly, research shows that household food insecurity is a strong predictor of higher health care utilization and increased health care costs. 

This is where SNAP comes in. Research demonstrates that SNAP reduces food insecurity as well as health care utilization and costs. On average, low-income adults participating in SNAP incurred nearly 25 percent less in health care costs over 12 months than low-income adults not participating in SNAP.  

When we protect SNAP, we protect the health of the people we serve. We need to generate as many comments as possible making clear that these cuts would harm the health of millions of families.   

Comments must be received by USDA on or before September 23, 2019 

Please visit the Feeding America platform to submit individual comments in opposition to the rule.  

For those interested in engaging on social media, a tweet storm will be held Thursday, 9/19, from 3 – 4 p.m. ET to increase awareness and action surrounding this harmful rule. 

For more information, contact Corey at