Trump Administration Finalizes First Food Benefit Cut

Hundreds of thousands of Americans could lose access to food benefits under a policy change the Trump administration finalized on Wednesday, December 4, 2019.

This final rule would weaken the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—the nation’s first defense against hunger and take food off the tables of nearly 700,000 people, many of whom struggle to find sufficient hours of work in areas with few jobs. Overall, one in ten SNAP households are slated to lose program eligibility in 20 states.

The proposed rule would have a major impact in North Carolina. Eleven percent, or 79,260 of its current SNAP households, would lose $112 in monthly benefits, according to a new study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

It’s the first of three big changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance food stamp program (SNAP benefits) the Trump administration is pursuing through regulation after Congress rejected significant cuts last year.

The new rule will make it more difficult for states to waive a requirement that able-bodied adults without children find work at least 20 hours a week or else lose their benefits. The administration says the change is intended to encourage those receiving SNAP to get jobs, but anti-hunger advocates worry it will hurt low-income individuals who can’t find steady work.

According to the Food and Action Center the nation would see higher rates of hunger and poverty. The final rule would cause serious harm to individuals, communities, and the nation while doing nothing to improve the health and employment of those impacted by the rules. In addition, the rulings would harm the economy, grocery retailers, agricultural producers, and communities by reducing the amount of SNAP dollars available to spur local economic activity.

The ruling is set to take effect next April 1, 2020, unless Congress or the courts act to stop or delay it.

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