Under current Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) requirements, able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) must work or participate in an employment program for at least 20 hours per week to continue receiving benefits for more than three months over a 36-month period. States may request to waive the time limit in areas with an unemployment rate above 10% or where there are not sufficient jobs. Area waivers are a critical backstop to protect food assistance for individuals looking for work but unable to find sufficient hours.
On February 1, 2019 the United States Department of Agriculture published a proposed rule to reduce state flexibility to waive the time limit in areas without sufficient jobs and rejects the approach taken up by the 2018 bi-partisan Farm Bill, which fought to protect SNAP benefits, maintain current area waivers and provide ongoing investments to support job opportunity through employment and training efforts. SNAP is California’s first line of defense against hunger and is especially critical for individuals deemed as ABAWDs, who represent some of our state’s poorest and most vulnerable residents. Implementation of this rule would take food away from 755,000 people, causing serious harm to communities in California and across the country. SNAP, known as CalFresh in California, benefits would be cut by $15 billion dollars over ten years, increasing hunger and poverty, while also sharply reducing the amount of SNAP benefits that circulate in our communities.
SNAP is associated with better health outcomes, improved nutrition and reduced healthcare costs driving over $11 billion in total economic activity annually in California. The proposed rule would harm local economies, retailers and agricultural producers by reducing the amount of SNAP dollars people have to spend on food. Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services is committed to fighting food insecurity for our neighbors in need. This proposed rule denies people food assistance when they need it most, worsens hunger and poverty and will make it more difficult, not less to find a job.
Federal law requires the government to read and consider every unique comment before issuing a final rule. Public comments can elevate the profile of an issue, help affected communities speak up, show policymakers this proposal is unpopular and can delay publication of a final rule. The Administration needs to hear how dangerous this proposal is to the health and well-being of many Americans. We urge the public to join us and submit comments here before April 2, 2019.
Here are a few of sentences for inspiration, but be sure to personalize your comment.
I strongly oppose the administration’s new rule making it harder for those in need to access food assistance. Time limits do not help people find work but only make it harder for the poorest Americans to feed themselves.
SNAP is the first line of defense against hunger and is especially critical for individuals deemed as ABAWDs. I oppose this proposed rule and urge the administration to withdraw this dangerous proposal as it’s an unnecessary burden on workers who struggle with food insecurity.
I oppose proposed changes to SNAP and the work and time limits they impose. Implementing this rule would harm local economies, retailers and agricultural producers by reducing the amount of SNAP dollars people have to spend on food. Denying food assistance when people need it most, worsens hunger and poverty and will make it more difficult, to find a job.
Jennifer Postlethwaite, Communications Coordinator
Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services