Preserving SNAP is paramount as farm bill negotiations persist

September 12, 2018 By: Marcus Schmit

With a September 30 deadline looming, the House and Senate conferees tasked with reauthorizing a new five-year farm bill continue negotiating differences in the farm bills passed out of each legislative body in recent months. Second Harvest Heartland remains concerned about proposed changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) included in the House version of the farm bill.

H.R. 2, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, passed by the United States House of Representatives earlier this year includes several changes to SNAP in the form of eligibility restrictions and enhanced work requirements that will negatively impact the one in 11 Minnesotans – and one in eight Minnesota youth – currently experiencing hunger. According to a recently released analysis funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, H.R. 2 will make it significantly more difficult for some children, seniors and working families experiencing hunger to access crucial SNAP benefits.

These findings are consistent with a Second Harvest Heartland-Boston Consulting Group (BCG) study shared with Minnesota’s congressional delegation earlier this year, identifying that proposed changes to SNAP in the form of additional eligibility restrictions and enhanced work requirements included in H.R. 2 will exacerbate pressures on an emergency food network of food banks, food shelves and meal programs already operating at maximum capacity. Both studies conclude that these changes will impact Minnesotans who should remain eligible for the nation’s most effective anti-hunger tool (i.e. SNAP). SNAP is proven to increase food security for those experiencing hunger with a host of benefits that include improving health outcomes and reducing costs within the health care system, boosting student performance in school and increasing worker productivity.

As negotiations continue, we are urging Minnesota’s congressional delegation to encourage final support of the Senate farm bill, S. 3042, which meets the needs of Minnesota’s farm and emergency food communities. Our state’s emergency food system of food banks, food shelves and meal programs cannot adequately respond to more Minnesotans experiencing hunger to fall further into poverty.

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