Bruce Plante Cartoon: Food Stamps

The Trump administration’s decision to change food stamp eligibility is a shortsighted move guaranteed to increase U.S. hunger and poverty.

Nearly 700,000 Americans are expected to lose food assistance because of a rule enacted last week. It makes it harder for states to waive a work requirement for able-bodied adults without children.

Two other pending rules would tighten eligibility on families by altering the way paperwork is filed and re-evaluating the impact of utility bills. In total, these could strip 3.7 million low-income people of assistance, decreasing benefits by $4.2 billion.

In defending the new rule, the administration says it will motivate SNAP recipients to get jobs. In reality, it will hurt people struggling to find steady employment.

This comes after a bipartisan rejection last year of Trump’s goal of putting eligibility restrictions in the Farm Bill.

SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, is one of the most misunderstood and unfairly criticized federal programs, with poor people used as the biggest target.

Don’t forget the huge benefits to retailers and farmers growing and selling food.

In fiscal year 2019, SNAP was used to purchase $840 million worth of food from nearly 3,500 retail Oklahoma grocers. Those retailers include big-city stores and small rural convenience locations.

SNAP is a crucial part of the economic safety net, particularly in pockets of Oklahoma with higher unemployment and for people with disabilities. Yanking away food assistance also hurts retailers, farmers and children.

No one is getting wealthy off food stamps. The Oklahoma average daily food benefit per person is $4.

Nearly half (47%) of Oklahoma SNAP homes have children younger than 18, and 33% of households have an elderly or disabled family member.

The way to encourage self-sufficiency is not to take away food and health care. It is through support programs including education, workforce training and access to mental health and health providers.

This move will not improve the economy; it will worsen hunger.

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Ginnie Graham 918-581-8376

Twitter: @GinnieGraham