Newly proposed rule changes by the Trump administration could cause millions of Americans to lose access to food assistance, a new analysis found.
Over the past year, the Department of Agriculture proposed three changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, widely known as SNAP or food stamps. The new regulations establish stricter work requirements for program eligibility and cap deductions for utility allowances.
In addition to that, the government also plans to ''reform'' the way 40 states automatically enroll families into SNAP when they receive other forms of federal aid.
According to a study by the Urban Institute, if the changes had been instituted in 2018, it would have resulted in 3.7 million fewer people and 2.1 million fewer households receiving food stamps in an average month. In addition to that, some 982,000 students would lose their access to free or reduced lunches, the researchers found out.
Laura Wheaton, a senior researcher at the Urban Institute, commented that the three proposed changes would decrease the number of US households participating in SNAP by 11 percent if it had entered into force in 2018.
It also means a 9.4 percent reduction in the number of people in the program and nearly an 8 percent decrease in overall benefits, Wheaton added.
Craig Gundersen, an agricultural economics professor at the University of Illinois, said that the food security of about a million US people could be in danger because of the change. Prof. Gundersen also highlighting that almost half of those 3.7 million SNAP beneficiaries have already been food insecure despite the federal assistance.
According to prof. Gundersen, the proposed changes would put many poor US households in danger, increasing their hunger and health problems. He also noted that each additional adult who becomes food insecure could expect an additional USD 2,000 in healthcare costs.
Prof. Gundersen concluded that the initial goal of the federal-funded SNAP program was to mitigate hunger. In his view, anything that impedes SNAP of doing its essential purpose is problematic as it automatically increases the food insecurity in America.
The US agriculture secretary, Sonny Perdue, wrote in a USA Today op-ed that the government was taking measures to ''restore integrity to SNAP and move dependents towards self-sufficiency.'' Perdue also noted that the anticipated changes pay our respects to the taxpayers who fund the program.
What do you think? Do you support or oppose the proposed changes?