Congressional budget resolution unnecessarily targets food stamps
The United States House of Representatives recently issued its Fiscal Year 2018 budget resolution, a visionary document that signals the majority party’s values and priorities meant to guide the forthcoming budget process. You can view the budget resolution here.
The resolution’s targeting of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly known as food stamps, is concerning. Specifically, the resolution points out that the growth of SNAP beneficiaries – more than 645,000 Minnesotans is a problem that requires the application of enhanced eligibility restrictions. These restrictions would make it more difficult for those in need of food assistance to feed themselves and their families.
Most of us agree that preserving a strong safety net for folks who unexpectedly face job loss or a health care crisis is the right thing to do. If a program is wasteful of taxpayer dollars or not achieving its intended goal, then it should be reformed or eliminated. SNAP is not one of those programs in need of change. It is already providing the temporary, emergency relief intended of the program at inception. Remember, the typical Minnesotan turning to SNAP spends SNAP dollars at Main Street grocery stores and retailers for about nine months before getting back on his or her feet.
Following the worst economic recession since the Great Depression, millions more Americans turned to SNAP to help them make ends meet. Efforts by organizations such as Second Harvest Heartland to connect SNAP-eligible folks to this food assistance program also expanded SNAP usage – and reduced the pressure on Minnesota’s hunger relief community comprised of food shelves, food pantries and other charities.
The House budget resolution cites the need for SNAP reforms that “reduce poverty and increase opportunity and upward mobility for struggling Americans.” We agree with that vision and therefore urge legislative leaders to keep SNAP intact – for the sake of the clients we serve, a hunger relief community already stretched to the limits, and Main Street grocery stores relying on SNAP-spending Minnesotans to purchase their meat, milk and produce.