Participation in federally funded summer nutrition programs, which provide meals for low-income children when school is out of session, is down by 10 percent since 2015, said the anti-hunger Food Research and Action Center in a report today. Work in Congress to update USDA’s child …
The work requirements for SNAP recipients proposed by House Republicans "would cause more than a million low-income households with about 2 million people — particularly low-income working families with children —- to lose their benefits altogether or have them reduced," said Robert Greenstein, the head of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "We really believe they need to go back to the drawing board," saying the package is too poorly designed to be salvaged by amendment.
The perennial Republican proposal to convert food stamps into a block grant "would severely undermine" the anti-hunger program's ability to respond immediately to economic downturns, says the American Enterprise Institute, an exponent of free enterprise. In a paper aimed at the 2018 farm bill, AEI says "the program could be strengthened by doing more to assist participants with finding employment and rewarding work."
Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson, the senior Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, says there is a recurring challenge as committee leaders draft an outline of the 2018 farm bill: "The big problem is we haven't got any money." The Agriculture Committee appealed for additional funding early this year but the budget plan approved by Congress kept funding steady.
Officials from USDA and Puerto Rico agreed on a household distribution program that will provide about 500,000 boxes, each holding from 9-16 pounds of U.S.-grown food, "directly to families affected by Hurricane Maria." The distribution, announced over the weekend, was approved through Oct. 27.
The White House proposed a $193-billion cut in food stamp spending over the next decade, achieved by restricting benefits to able-bodied adults and by having states shoulder 20 percent of the cost of the program. Jim Weill, of the anti-hunger Food Research and Action Center, said the cost-sharing plan "would make the program collapse" during economic hard times when states run short of money.
The leaders of the House Agriculture Committee said aloud, albeit softly, what they have hinted for weeks — they want more money for the 2018 farm bill than is being spent under current law. Chairman Michael Conaway phrased the request to the Budget Committee as a need for "budget flexibility" for the farm bill while the committee's senior Democrat, Collin Peterson, said "we may need a little more."
President Trump would pay for his proposed $54-billion increase in military spending in fiscal 2018 by cutting domestic discretionary programs by 15 percent, said the think tank Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "The president's proposal would continue a severe, multi-year squeeze" on discretionary programs such as education, job training, clean water, and medical and scientific research, said the think tank.
Donald Trump will not back a popular conservative proposal to split food stamps from the rest of the farm bill, said Sam Clovis, a senior advisor to the Republican presidential nominee. Speaking for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, former deputy agriculture secretary Kathleen Merrigan said food stamps are a key element of farm bills and Clinton would oppose cuts to the premiere U.S. anti-hunger program.