Budget Effects on SNAP

Nearly all of the information in this post comes from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities April 11th report, “Ryan budget would slash SNAP funding by $127 billion over ten years” by Dorothy Rosenbaum as well as from the Mass Law Reform Institute, convener of the Boston SNAP Coalition.    

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget plan would cut the SNAP program (formerly food stamps) by $127 billion – almost 20% – over the next tens years (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities).  Besides proposing turning the program into a block grant, he hasn’t provided details on how the cuts would be achieved.

Nationwide, there are currently 44 million people receiving SNAP.  If the cuts came solely from eliminating eligibility categories of currently eligible households or individuals, more than 8 million people would need to be cut from the program.

If cuts were applied to amount of benefits families receive, all families of four would see their benefits cut by $147 a month, or $1,764 a year.  A family of three would be subject to cuts of $116 per month, or $1,392 a year.  That is money that would be spent at local grocery stores and farmers’ markets and would have a negative economic impact on local economies.

The growth in SNAP expenditures over the past three years is a result of the economic recession, not the result of a program that has grown out of control.  People receiving SNAP benefits are often low-income families with children, seniors and people with disabilities.   Currently 43.6 million Americans live below the poverty line, with is roughly $22,350 for a family of four.  93% of all SNAP benefits are going to these households.  Three-quarters of SNAP participants are in families with children; one third are in households that include senior citizens or people with disabilities.   Cutting benefits from these households will not improve our communities, our economies, our health as a nation, or our education systems.  These cuts have the ability to negatively impact all of these.

As Pat Baker of the Mass Law Reform Institute points out, the SNAP caseload in Massachusetts has increased by more than 300% since 2002 (now exceeding 800,000 participants) while SNAP staff at the DTA office has decreased by more than 30% during this same time period.  As a result, the SNAP caseload has surged to more than 1,000 per SNAP worker in many offices across the Commonwealth.  At the state level, we do not need to see more cuts to the DTA administration that is administering this federally funded program.

The economic benefits that the state sees as a result of the SNAP program are outstanding.  For every $1 in administrative costs that the state spends, the Commonwealth leverages at least $50 in 100% federally funded nutrition benefits.  These go directly into the hands of local grocers, supermarkets, and farmers – people that are the very base of our economy.

At both the federal and the state level we need to see responsible funding of SNAP benefits and the administration process that delivers these benefits.

On Monday, April 4th Congressman McGovern spoke on the House floor against these cuts.

Today, the House will be voting on the 2012 budget.   Mass congressmen McGovern, Frank, and Markey have stood up against these cuts.  You can call the Capital Switchboard toll free at 1-888-245-0215 to get ahold of your congressperon and ask him/her to stand up against these cuts as well.

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MA ranks in nations top ten for SNAP participation

The USDA released a report ranking Massachusetts number 8 in the nation in SNAP (food stamp) participation.  Of the estimated 856,000 MA residents that are at 125% of the poverty line or below, the SNAP program is reaching 77.6% of those residents.  This level of SNAP participation is acheived through extensive collaboration between the Department of Transitional Assistance, social service agencies, outreach workers, and advocates.   Here in Worcester, the SNAP Working Group is a collaboration of Project Bread, DTA, UMass Memorial Hospital, WCAC, the Worcester Food & Active Living Policy Council/Hunger-Free & Healthy, Worcester State University, and Catholic Charities.  As a group, we are able to build relationships between DTA and community outreach workers that are doing SNAP application assistance and advocacy, as well as with the hospitals and health centers that are also doing SNAP application assistance.  This collaboration allows for problem solving, information sharing, and advocacy.  Western MA has a similar coalition, as does the Boston area.  With the support of dedicated advocates at the MA Law Reform Institute we have also been able to acheive amazing policy change to the SNAP program across the state, helping everyone increase access to SNAP benefits for qualifying MA residents. 

Read the official press release from EOHHS.