And now, an update from Beth Low-Smith, vice president of policy:
The House Committee on Agriculture today released their long-awaited report on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. It draws upon testimony from more than 60 witnesses, including Kansans and Missourians, about the critical ways SNAP impacts families, farmers and businesses.
Although the report stops short of specific policy recommendations, my first reading leads me to believe it is laying groundwork for the majority’s SNAP agenda in the upcoming 2018 Farm Bill.
I believe findings in the report suggest the majority will focus on tightening recipient eligibility requirements, strengthening work requirements and improving healthfulness of of food purchased with SNAP benefits through either restrictions or incentives.
“You will find nothing in this report that suggests gutting SNAP or getting rid of a program that does so much to serve so many,” Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and nutrition subcommittee chairwoman Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) said in an executive summary. “What you will find are a number of ways the program is working successfully and a number of areas in need of improvement. You will find areas for innovation, for adjustment, for education and training, and for rethinking the best ways to serve those in need.”
We at KC Healthy Kids are working with local and national partners to examine and respond to the report and its implications for the physical and financial health of our region. This includes preparing to advocate for SNAP policies favorable to our region for the 2018 Farm Bill, which is expected to get underway by mid 2017.
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Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has released the following statement:
“Four out of five SNAP participants are children, seniors, people with disabilities, or working adults. SNAP reduces food insecurity, increases access to healthy food, and generates economic activity and creates jobs all along the supply chain—from the store where food is purchased, all the way back to the farmer who produces it. The program has also been shown to have a positive impact on children’s health, academic performance, and long-run economic self-sufficiency. SNAP rewards work with benefits that decrease gradually as earnings increase, and SNAP Employment & Training helps participants build the skills they need to get good-paying jobs and move off the program the right way.
“SNAP is designed to respond swiftly to changing economic conditions—on a national scale, as we saw during the Great Recession when SNAP lifted millions of people out of poverty, or locally, when a plant closes, disaster strikes, or another event causes sudden unemployment or hardship in a particular community. As the report highlights, states already have significant flexibility to tailor the program to their unique needs, while maintaining the responsiveness, effectiveness, and oversight of the Federal program.
“Proposals to convert SNAP into a block grant are misguided and would mean the program could no longer respond to economic conditions and serve all eligible Americans without drastically reducing benefits. As Congress begins working on the 2018 Farm Bill, they must protect SNAP and resist pressure to weaken the program by turning it into an ineffective block grant.”