Saturday, September 26, 2020
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The Villages

United Way head wants to preserve food stamp benefits for 179,000 Lake, Sumter County residents

Dr. Alan Holden of United Way
Dr. Alan Holden

Next week, both the House of Representatives and the Senate will release their versions of the Farm Bill. These bills include provisions for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or Food Stamps). The Senate version is a bipartisan agreement. The House Agriculture Committee bipartisan negotiations, however, broke down before the Spring Break. The House version will be a partisan bill. Sources close to the Agriculture Committee say the House Farm Bill will propose the following to SNAP:

1.     Curb eligibility and limiting state flexibility in administration of SNAP;
2.     Sever the SNAP “Heat and Eat” provision that helps families receiving LIHEAP get modestly higher SNAP benefits;
3.     Institute harsher work requirements for recipients of SNAP benefits; and
4.     Cut SNAP appropriations dramatically.
This will have an adverse effect on Lake and Sumter Counties because 62% of our school children currently qualify for free or reduced lunches. 41% of the population in Lake and Sumter Counties or 179,580 individuals make up the ALICE population. These are the working families who need this assistance to help them make ends meet. The dramatic results of the House version of the Farm Bill will impact the economy of Lake and Sumter Counties negatively, and increase demand on local charities whose resources are already stretched thin.
The Basics on SNAP:
  • In 2017, about 42 million people accessed food through SNAP. That’s 1 in 13 Americans.
  • Anyone who qualifies can receive the nutrition support. SNAP serves households with income up to 130% of the federal poverty line (roughly $26,000 in annual income for a family of three) that meet asset limitations.
  • About 88% of SNAP households include children, the elderly or persons with disabilities.
  • The average monthly SNAP benefit per person in 2017 was about $126– roughly $4.13 a day or $1.38 per meal.
  • SNAP benefits are delivered monthly through an electronic debit card (EBT) programmed to allow only the purchase of food.
  • Most households must reapply for SNAP every six to twelve months, though households with seniors or those with disabilities typically apply every twelve to twenty-four months.
  • The federal government pays for SNAP benefits and shares the administration costs with states, with 93% of program costs going directly to food.
  • States further support work through the SNAP Employment and Training program, which funds training and work activities for unemployed adults who receive SNAP.
SNAP Improves employment, economic activity, and reduces poverty:
  • SNAP supports work: SNAP supplements the income of low-wage earners, helping working families make ends meet and is carefully structured to encourage work. SNAP Employment & Training dollars help workers prepare for and secure jobs.
  • SNAP promotes economic activity: SNAP helps families buy food, freeing up resources to pay for other basic needs to get by, which infuses additional dollars into the local economy. Moody’s Analytics estimates that every $1 increase in household SNAP generates about $1.70 in economic activity.
  • SNAP is responsive in economic downturns and natural disaster: SNAP enrollment expands when the economy weakens and contracts when the economy recovers, making it one of our country’s most responsive programs in stabilizing families. Disaster SNAP (D-SNAP) is swift at extending help to those suddenly in need of food assistance due to natural disasters like wildfires and hurricanes.
  • SNAP reduces poverty: In 2014, SNAP kept over 8 million people– including 4 million children – out of poverty and boosted up more than 25 million others.
  • SNAP supports health and education: Children with regular access to nutritious food have improved academic performance including higher likelihood of high school graduation, and decreased risk of behavior problems, obesity, illness and infection. Pregnant mothers have improved birth outcomes, and elderly SNAP participants can better afford their prescription medications.

CONTACT Your Representatives

  • Rep Daniel Webster, Minneola Office Phone: (352) 241-9220; The Villages Office Phone: (352) 383-3552
  • Rep Ron DeSantis, DeLand Office Phone: (386) 279-7343
  • Sen Marco Rubio, Orlando Office Phone (407) 254-2573
  • Sen Bill Nelson, Orlando Office Phone (407) 872-7161 or (888) 671-4091

ASK— In the Farm Bill please:

  • Protect and strengthen SNAP to maintain its responsiveness to combat hunger and provide financial stability.
  • Ensure policies promote access and facilitate enrollment rather than create roadblocks.

Dr. Alan Holden is President/CEO of United Way of Lake & Sumter Counties.

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