FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Etienne Melcher, 202.986.2200 x3012
Washington, D.C. – April 26 – The Farm Bill proposal passed today by the Senate Agriculture Committee includes a $4.49 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by limiting states’ ability to operate “Heat and Eat” policies.
“With millions of people struggling to pay for food, housing, health, and energy costs in this tough economy, the nation’s safety net must be strengthened -- not cut. Today’s vote means less food in the refrigerator for struggling families,” said FRAC President Jim Weill. “Attempts to dismiss such cuts as ‘accounting’ fixes obscures the fact that it is a cut in benefits with real impact on people and their ability to purchase food.”
Weill also noted recent polling data, which found widespread support for SNAP. Seventy-seven percent of voters said that cutting SNAP would be the wrong way to reduce government spending. “Americans recognize that SNAP works. Congress must stop these attempts to shred our safety net, and instead tackle hunger with the zeal that the situation – and that the public – demand,” said Weill.
Many low-income Americans face an impossible choice between paying for food or paying for energy, but “Heat and Eat” coordinates SNAP and the Low-Income Household Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to help them afford both. Currently, the District of Columbia and 14 states (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin) implement “Heat and Eat” policies, with California soon to join them. These states’ LIHEAP agencies provide small cash LIHEAP benefits directly to SNAP households. This targeted LIHEAP benefit helps meet LIHEAP’s requirement for outreach, simplifies the SNAP shelter deduction calculation, and, by increasing SNAP benefits to more realistic levels, alleviates some of the untenable “heat or eat” choices that households face.
Limiting SNAP “Heat and Eat” could trigger sizable reductions in monthly SNAP benefits for many households – an estimated $90 loss in benefits for households.
“Cutting SNAP this way means lost meals for hungry Americans,” concluded Weill. “This cut is at odds with every bipartisan deficit proposal discussed over the past year, including the Budget Control Act which protected SNAP from cuts. Bipartisan groups such as Simpson-Bowles, Domenici-Rivlin, and the Gang of Six have recognized that it is a fundamental mistake to cut SNAP.”