Congresswoman Terri Sewell

Representing the 7th District of Alabama
 

Rep. Sewell, Sen. Sanders, 130+ Members of Congress Urge Trump Administration to Reverse Food Assistance Rule

Aug 8, 2019
Press Release
Rule would strip SNAP benefits from an estimated 3.1 million Americans

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) led a group if 19 Senators and 120 U.S. Representatives urging U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to rescind his department’s “disastrous rule” to restrict Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for an estimated 3.1 million Americans.

“This plan would disproportionately punish working families who are already struggling to put food on the table and make ends meet,” the lawmakers wrote. “Families with children are more likely to face food insecurity, and in 2017, the number of families facing food insecurity rose for the first time since the Great Recession. … Additionally, schools rely on SNAP enrollment when determining eligibility for free school meals, so households could be penalized twice: once with the loss of household SNAP benefits and again with the loss of free school meals for children. In fact, USDA estimates 500,000 children will lose their automatic eligibility for free school meals.”

Sewell and Sanders also slammed the Administration’ claim that some states allow families to receive SNAP benefits who would otherwise not qualify and for which they are not entitled, explaining that fraud is virtually non-existent in the program.

“Families must already go through a robust vetting process to verify income eligibility. USDA’s assertion that families can simply receive an informational brochure in order to qualify for SNAP is simply not true. Perpetuating this lie breeds distrust in a successful program that lifted 8.4 million people out of poverty in 2015,” the lawmakers argued. “In reality, fraud is virtually nonexistent in this program; just 0.2 percent of benefits mistakenly go to households with net incomes above the poverty line.  Further, there are many more people who qualify for SNAP that are not enrolled in the program.  USDA’s resources would be better spent focusing on increasing participation among all who are eligible, rather than trying to limit participation among people who are already struggling.”

Over 800,000 Alabama families and 42 million Americans rely on SNAP benefits to feed their families. More than 73 percent of Alabama SNAP participants are families with children and nearly 35 percent are families with members who are seniors or have disabilities. Moreover, the program successfully lifted 195,000 Alabamians out of poverty, including 86,000 children, per year between 2009 and 2012.

Not only is the program instrumental in providing nutrition to families and children who might otherwise go hungry, estimates show $1 in SNAP benefits generates $1.70 in economic activity, benefitting local economies and businesses.

The the lawmakers’ letter available here.