Proposed Cuts to SNAP Could Mean Millions of American Kids Go to Bed Hungry
Congress should keep devastating cuts to anti-hunger programs off “fast track”
New U.S. House and Senate budget proposals include deep cuts and changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), threatening millions of American families. Right now, one in five American children is at risk of going to bed hungry every night, and SNAP is the nation’s primary defense against hunger.
House Budget Committee staff estimate the proposed cuts to SNAP total approximately $125 billion over the next ten years, which the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) estimates could mean 11–12 million Americans losing access to nutrition benefits. Soon Congress will decide whether or not to “fast track” these cuts and harmful SNAP policy changes by including cuts to Agriculture programs (the largest of which is SNAP) in the budget reconciliation process.
Former food stamps program is a lifeline for millions
Because of low wages and the ongoing impact of the Great Recession, millions of Americans struggle to put food on the table every night. In 2013, 1 in 5 children in the U.S. were at risk of going to bed hungry. Studies show that children who are regularly hungry suffer from weakened immune systems, slowed and abnormal growth, and anemia. Kids in homes facing food insecurity are two-thirds more likely to be at risk of developmental problems.
SNAP is the first line of defense against hunger for American families living at or below the poverty line. Currently, over 45 million people — almost half of them children — rely on SNAP benefits. And the program is working: SNAP lifted almost 5 million people out of poverty in 2013 alone (U.S. Census).
Year after year, SNAP is a critical lifeline for our society’s most vulnerable, including millions of working families. Close to two thirds of all SNAP beneficiaries are children or seniors themselves, and nearly 90 percent of SNAP participants live in a household with a dependent child, elderly person, or person with disabilities. SNAP is also carefully structured as a work incentive, and over half of SNAP households with able-bodied adults are currently employed. For every additional dollar a SNAP recipient earns, her SNAP benefits decline by only 24 to 36 cents, incentivizing participants to find employment, work more hours, or seek out better-paying jobs.
Budget proposals putting millions of children at risk
Despite its successful track record, Congress has moved to slash SNAP in the years ahead. The House budget proposal would convert SNAP (as well as Medicaid) into “state flexibility funds,” better known as block grants. The Senate budget resolution is not as specific but could also lead to deep SNAP cuts. While the proposals lack specific details, block grants would dramatically restrict access to the program and decrease funding. The idea of block grants for SNAP has been rejected for decades, as it undermines the flexibility, accountability, and consistency that have made SNAP so successful.
In addition to these counterproductive policy changes, the budget proposals also require additional deep cuts in “mandatory” programs (outside of health and retirement programs), which includes SNAP. The House budget is particularly devastating for SNAP families. House Budget Committee staff projected the cuts to SNAP at $125 billion over the next decade, which could result in millions losing SNAP. The House budget would also “fast track” these cuts and changes through the budget reconciliation process. The House and Senate are likely to reach a final budget agreement soon, including the critical decision of whether or not to “fast track” SNAP cuts and changes.
RESULTS and RESULTS Educational Fund
RESULTS and RESULTS Educational Fund are sister organizations that, together, are a leading force in ending poverty in the United States and around the world. We create long-term solutions to poverty by supporting programs that address its root causes — lack of access to health, education, or opportunity to move up the economic ladder. We do this by empowering ordinary people to become extraordinary voices for the end of poverty in their communities, the media, and the halls of government. The collective voices of these passionate grassroots activists, coordinated with grass-tops efforts driven by our staff, leverage millions of dollars for programs and improved policies that give low-income people the tools they need to move out of poverty.
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