Changes to SNAP are solutions searching for problems
It's hard to blame folks for tuning out the hysteria and hyperbole driving the news these days.
Here's what we know to be certain: Minnesotans missed almost 100 million meals last year. And we’re closer to the next economic recession than we are to the last one. Massive cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly referred to as food stamps, will widen that meal gap. These cuts won’t create a problem – they will make an existing crisis even worse. Congress is considering providing states more flexibility to utilize federal funding for safety net programs such as SNAP; however, that flexibility is coupled with significant funding reductions.
The impact of these proposed cuts on Minnesota’s state budget are alarming as state legislators would be expected to pick up the remaining tab – or tolerate more of their constituents missing meals and communities enduring losses in local economic activity spurred by SNAP.
This is not fake news. Hundreds of thousands of our fellow Minnesotans rely on food assistance through SNAP, but so do our Main Street grocery stores and retailers. Last month’s mostly positive jobs report also highlighted that average wages remain stagnant. So even though the economy is connecting folks with work, many Minnesotans are still reliant on SNAP to make ends meet. Preserving SNAP for the folks in need now – as well as those who might rely on it in the future – is critical. Changes to SNAP are solutions searching for problems. Minnesota legislators will surely want SNAP to remain strong in an economic downturn to aid their constituents, enhance local economic activity in their communities, and to maintain a balanced state budget.