After the passage of the Farm Bill last year, the Administration and USDA proposed a new rule change for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The proposed rule would limit the amount of time an Able-Bodied Adult Without Dependents (ABAWD) would be able to receive SNAP without working for a maximum of three months within a 36-month period.
This change would affect 755,000 ABAWDs who use the program to put food on their tables. An estimated 262,000 ABAWDs are Floridians.
The proposed rule would also give USDA the ability to temporarily waive the time requirements if there is an unemployment rate of over 10% or a lack of sufficient jobs. In would also limit a state’s ability to implement a waiver, which they can enact if there is high unemployment in their state. The state of Florida most recently had a waiver during the 2009 Recession.
Why does this matter?
Because Florida already has a time restriction for ABAWDs, there wouldn’t be an immediate impact. However, in the case of another recession, a strong safety net is needed.
Restricting a state’s ability to request a waiver will create additional hardships for SNAP recipients already struggling to meet the 20-hour requirement per week. In particular, it would impact rural communities where job opportunities may be scarce in a recession. In addition, retail, hospitality, related and other industries with hourly workers that don’t have reliable hours and limited benefits.
How will this impact Second Harvest?
Ultimately, if this rule is enacted, more individuals will struggle with decisions about whether to put food on their table or pay rent. SNAP is a strong and efficient safety net for those who fall on hard times. Food banks would see an increased need in their networks. For every meal that Second Harvest puts into the community, SNAP puts out 12. Food banks, like Second Harvest, simply would not be able to meet the increased need.
What can you do?
There is a 60 day public comment period. This period ends on April 2nd. Second Harvest is aiming to have over 100 comments submitted from advocates who believe the program shouldn’t be touched.
You can make your comment through the website for our national partner, Feeding America, here: Don’t let USDA Take Food Away from 755,000 people.
Here’s a few talking points about the proposed rule that you can include in your personalized comment:
- The proposed rule will fuel rates of hunger and poverty by denying vulnerable people the nutritional assistance they need at a time they need it most;
- This proposed rule does nothing to improve the health and employment of those impacted by the proposed rule;
- The proposed rule would harm the economy, grocery retailers, and agricultural producers by reducing the amount of SNAP dollars available to spur local economic activity;
- This rule would sidestep Congress, which rejected these changes when it enacted the 2018 Farm Bill.
Take Action Now and Help 755,000 Americans Keep Food on their Tables.