As you may have seen in the news, the new Farm Bill aims to restrict eligibility for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, food stamp) recipients across the country. With our food bank clients in mind, we are keeping our eye on Capitol Hill as this bill continues working its way through Congress.
Without SNAP, we could not meet client need
The Crisis Center and other food pantries receive food from the USDA’s Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP).
Food banks are designed to be a supplemental food source, not a replacement for food stamps. SNAP can provide 12 meals for every one meal a food pantry can provide, according to the Feeding America food bank network. Already, our pantry is nearing capacity, distributing almost 2 million pounds of food annually.
Physically demanding jobs, lack of daycare makes work inaccessible to many recipients
The biggest change, affecting an estimated 5 million of the 7 million SNAP recipients across the U.S., are the new work requirements. Already, SNAP requires that all able-bodied adults who are between the ages of 18 and 49 and do not have dependents work 20 hours a week at an approved job or be enrolled in a work training program.
With the proposed Farm Bill changes, the age would increase from 49 to 59–a population that might be technically considered “able-bodied” but could not actually handle many of the physically demanding jobs readily available–jobs that are temporary, seasonal, or unstable in some other way where the number of available work hours can vary widely from week to week.
And while a number of late night, 2nd shift jobs are available, many low-income families do not have transportation and during these hours public transportation is reduced, spotty, or doesn’t exist at all. Also, for families with young children, daycare options for second-shift workers are limited, if available at all. In fact, the lack of daycare options, and not just affordable daycare, in the state of Iowa is a major barrier for families at all income levels.
Losing food stamps and going hungry won’t help anyone find a job
Being between jobs would be detrimental to SNAP eligibility. The amount of time adults within the age parameters could be between jobs (or in a job that offers less than 20 hours per week on a consistent basis) would be reduced from three months to only one month. If they cannot meet this requirement, they will become ineligible for a year. If they lose their job and are unable to replace it within a month a second time, they will be ineligible for three years.
Losing SNAP benefits and going hungry will not help anyone find a job, nor will it speed up their job-seeking process.
Stricter work requirements encourage more underemployment, jumping through hoops
Many people, in order to jump through the newest hoops, will be forced to take jobs that will never pay a living wage, are temporary, have no room for advancement, and will not meet their family’s needs. These kinds of jobs will not lift people out of poverty.
At The Crisis Center, we’re proud to offer low barrier food assistance for those who fall through the cracks of other programs. However, the more clients we serve, the harder it will be for us to keep our food bank shelves stocked.
You can help
Take a moment to contact your elected officials to ask them to oppose these changes to SNAP. It’s already very difficult for our friends and neighbors in need to access SNAP benefits; it doesn’t need to be harder.
Feeding America’s script makes it easy. Call their toll-free number at 1-888-398-8702 and enter your zip code to be connected to the local House Congressional Offices.
- I’m calling on behalf of The Crisis Center which serves Johnson County, Iowa.
- I’m concerned about the recent farm bill released by the House Agriculture Committee. The bill’s severe cuts to SNAP through burdensome and unnecessary work time limits and restrictions on eligibility will lengthen the lines at our local food pantry and other sites that serve hungry people
- The Crisis Center will not be able to meet the demand of these proposed SNAP cuts. The deep cuts to SNAP will negatively impact the people it serves and increase hunger in our community.
- I’m asking you to reach out to the House Leadership and encourage the House Ag Committee to come up with a bipartisan bill that protects and strengthens this vital program.