Anti-Hunger Advocates Warn SNAP Is Under Attack, Again
Carol McCarthy | Sep 20, 2019 AT 7:32 am
ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesotans fighting hunger say a proposed rule change for those needing help to put food on the table this winter will have drastic consequences.
The Trump administration's effort to tighten eligibility requirements for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, formerly known as food stamps, would kick at least 35,000 low-income Minnesotans off of SNAP, according to Colleen Moriarty with Hunger Solutions.
She says that includes 18,000 Minnesota children.
"The logic behind this was we want people to be more self-sufficient," says Moriarty. "If people find themselves in the unenviable position of needing assistance for food, taking them off the program, and limiting their access to food is not going to help them become more self-sufficient."
Moriarty says those without SNAP benefits will fall back on state food pantries, which already report nearly 3.5 million visits every year. The new rules would disqualify Minnesota families who earn more than $27,000 per year.
To comment on the rule changes before the Monday deadline, go to hungersolutions.org.
Some of those expecting help from SNAP this winter could be farmers, hit by tariffs and weather-related events that have reduced their income. Because the proposed rule changes take assets such as land ownership and savings into consideration for eligibility, Minnesota farmer Cindy VanDerPol says those producing the nation's food could find themselves ineligible to seek SNAP benefits.
"They have all sorts of obstacles in their way this year, and to put one more thing in their path of feeding their families," says VanDerPol. "these guys' families that are already struggling as it is, trying to figure out if they're going to be farming next year. It's just heartbreaking to hear."
One Minnesota businessman is worried about what the rule changes could mean for the rural economy. Corey Christianson owns two KC's Country Market stores, and says in addition to those directly impacted, grocers and ag producers could lose economic activity spurred by SNAP dollars.
"It has a ripple effect on the local economy and Main Street and then also can be local producers, farmers, and then if we do see a lowering in our tax base, then that really negatively effects our schools," says Christianson.
In addition to children, 3,000 Minnesota seniors and nearly that many adults with disabilities would lose eligibility for food benefits. Nationwide, more than three million people would be cut from the SNAP program.