May 2018 U.S. Poverty Action

April 30, 2018

Generate Media to Protect SNAP

Congress is about to vote on taking food away from people who are struggling. Let’s get it in the headlines.

You know that old saying, “when you’re hungry, everything is easier”? No one does. Unfortunately, that’s the premise of the new Farm Bill – the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2) – that will be voted on in the House in early May. By cutting access to SNAP, this bill would make it harder for more than a million low-income households to put food on the table.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP – what we used to call “Food Stamps” – is our country’s first line of defense against hunger. It helps over 40 million people per month put food on the table. Most of them children, persons with disabilities, and seniors. But the House Farm Bill proposes a slew of destructive policy changes, with harsh new requirements to access the program and draconian penalties.

Harmful. The bill cuts food assistance to nearly every type of SNAP participant, including: children and their parents, people with disabilities, older workers, and people who are working or in between jobs. It is estimated that 2 million people will lose all or part of their SNAP benefits over the next ten years. This means that SNAP will serve nearly 10 billion fewer meals over that time (Feeding America). It also rolls back decades of bipartisan effort to make SNAP more accessible, especially to workers.

Unworkable. The bill uses the $20 billion in SNAP cuts to create a huge new bureaucracy for states to supposedly help people find work. However, this investment is a fraction of what is needed, meaning it will fail to help people get jobs while guaranteeing they lose food assistance.

Untested. The 2014 Farm Bill set up state pilot programs to test the efficiency of work requirements in SNAP, but the results from those programs are not yet available. Instead of waiting to make policy based on fact, the House is plowing forward on a program that has no track record of success.

Wasteful. The House Farm Bill forces people into work programs they may not need and places onerous reporting requirements on them and the states. SNAP participants will be required to report their work status every month and if they fail to do so, they would lose benefits for one to three years.

Thank you to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and Feeding America for the information above.

We can all agree that helping more people make ends meet and find quality jobs is a good thing. But this bill won’t do that. It winds up taking food assistance away from people who need it. That’s bad policy, and just plain wrong.

Send a letter to the editor to your local paper urging your member of Congress to vote against the House Farm Bill

Remember, the best letters are the ones that come straight from the heart. But you can use our template to get you started.

To the editor:

As millions of families are just scraping by, now leaders in Congress are debating a bill that would take away food from people struggling to find work.

The new House Farm Bill undermines SNAP (what we used to call “Food Stamps”) through a series of harsh new requirements and changes to who’s eligible for the program. Cutting people off from access to food does one thing and one thing only – it leaves them hungry. Congress needs to know that their so-called “work requirements” won’t create jobs. They will just cause harm.

We should not break the long history of bipartisan commitment to ensure struggling families across the country have enough to eat. Strengthening SNAP, not cutting it, is the right way forward. I urge our members of Congress need to say “no” to this Farm Bill.

 [Your name]

Here are some tips to improve your chances of getting published.

  • Make it personal. Members of Congress aren’t looking for form letters — they’re looking to really hear from their constituents. That’s you! Make sure you tell them why you care. If you have personal experience with SNAP, make sure to include that.
  • Make it local. Remind Congress that SNAP matters to the people who voted them into office. Include local data. And don’t forget to mention your member of Congress by name.
  • Make it timely. Show the newspaper editor that this is urgent: reference a recent story on the Farm Bill, or call out that Congress could be voting as soon as the beginning of May. This can’t wait around.
  • Make sure you submit it. The #1 reason someone’s letter to the editor doesn’t get published? They never submit it. Hitting “send” is the scariest part of publishing a letter – but it’s by far the most important.

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