WASHINGTON (May 18, 2023) The Alliance to End Hunger is deeply troubled by and strongly opposed to the deep funding cuts and irresponsible policy changes to federal food and nutrition programs proposed by the House Appropriations Committee’s agriculture subcommittee. These changes would jeopardize low-income individuals’ access to nutrition assistance programs that help families put food on the table. The Alliance urges members of the subcommittee to change course and prioritize funding for programs that support the most basic needs of our nation’s most vulnerable populations.
Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
The bill proposes $6 billion in funding for WIC in FY 2024; $800 million less than President Biden’s proposed budget. A cut of this magnitude—which includes a 62% cut to fruit and vegetable benefits—would take vital assistance away from the nearly five million women and young children who depend on WIC every day. With WIC participation expected to increase in 2024, it is essential that additional federal funding is provided to state WIC programs to ensure they can cover anyone eligible to participate. This bill fails that test.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
The bill includes two harmful proposals related to SNAP: one related to food choice and the other related to expanding work requirements.
The bill would authorize pilot projects to restrict food choices SNAP participants could make with their benefits. SNAP participants, like anyone else in this country, should have the right to make their own food choices. Rather than unfairly and punitively target SNAP participants, the subcommittee should provide additional funding to incentive programs that help them afford to purchase healthy foods.
The bill would also expand SNAP’s work-reporting requirement. Current requirements limit adults ages 18-49 without dependent children to three months of SNAP benefits in a three-year period unless they can demonstrate they are working, participating in work training, or qualify for an exemption. Despite extensive research showing that work requirements do not help people maintain employment while taking away critical economic assistance from those who need it, the bill proposes extending these failed policies to adults through age 55. Rather than doubling down on ineffective and punitive policies, the subcommittee should increase benefits, expand eligibility, and support voluntary job training programs.[i][ii]
The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)
TEFAP Storage and Distribution Funds, which help food banks secure and distribute nutritious foods to support individuals and families facing hunger, would be cut by $15 million. This would put an even greater financial burden on food banks already experiencing increased strain as a result of higher pandemic-era SNAP benefits recently expiring. With Americans facing continued high food costs amid declines in food assistance, food banks need more federal support, not less.
The Alliance to End Hunger calls on legislators to categorically reject these proposed policies and promote an agenda that supports and defends individuals and families struggling to make ends meet.
[ii] Gray et al., Employed in a SNAP? The Impact of Work Requirements on Program Participation and Labor Supply, 2, National Bureau of Economic Research, (June 2021), https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/pol.20200561.