West Virginians often show our love through sharing food. Whether it’s a big pot of beans and cornbread on the stove when we show up to a relative’s house or a friend sharing her “world famous” pepperoni roll recipe, we show love by filling up bellies.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a big part of how we fill those bellies. SNAP is the cornerstone of our nation’s anti-poverty and anti-hunger safety net. In a given year, about 340,000 West Virginians, or nearly one-fifth of our population, rely on SNAP to help put food on the table. And that’s a good thing. It frees up low-income families to spend money on other necessities, like child care or rent. In fact, SNAP lifts about 74,000 West Virginians out of poverty each year – 24,000 of them children.
SNAP is also great for grocers, retailers and our state’s economy. In 2017, SNAP brought over $480 million federal dollars flowing into 2,200 retail locations across the state.
Unfortunately, a proposed rule by the Trump Administration would undermine the progress we’ve made and take SNAP nutritional assistance away from three million Americans, 500,000 of them children. The proposal would impact an estimated 25,000 West Virginians, many of whom are working people, seniors, and those with disabilities, according to an analysis by the WVU Food Justice Lab. The proposal would end “broad-based categorical eligibility”, a successful and important SNAP provision that allows states to have the flexibility to adjust their SNAP program to work better for their citizens. It takes into account that households with significant expenses for housing, child care and other bills, often still need SNAP to help make ends meet. The provision also mitigates the “cliff effect” of losing nutrition assistance benefits after a slight increase in household income.
The impacts go far beyond just the individuals and families who would lose SNAP nutrition assistance under the proposal. If implemented, the rule would harm our economy, the state budget, and food pantries across the state. The SNAP proposal would take over $19 million annually out of our state and local economies. It would require the WV Department of Health and Human Resources to develop a new and potentially costly way of determining eligibility for SNAP households. The agency that oversees SNAP in Mississippi estimates that it would cost the state $1.5 million to change its eligibility methods under the rule. The proposal would also increase the number of hungry West Virginians that our state’s food banks and pantries are asked to serve.
West Virginians care about our friends and neighbors – especially when they are going through tough times. This proposal will only harm our communities and leave folks hungrier. Please visit https://frac.salsalabs.org/comment-on-trump-cat-el-proposed-rule/index.html and leave a public comment in opposition to this proposal by the September 23, 2019 deadline.
Kelly Allen is Director of Policy Engagement for West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.