Goodlatte-backed bill would mean less food for those who need it

Congressman Goodlatte joined his Republican colleagues on the House Agriculture Committee to approve a Farm Bill that would mean deep cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as Food Stamps.

The Commonwealth Institute of Virginia reports:

[T]he newest Farm Bill proposal – passed by the House Agriculture Committee on April 18 and could be voted on by the  full House this month – will end or cut SNAP benefits for many people, while setting up costly bureaucratic hurdles to qualify that do more harm than good.

SNAP kept 158,000 people in Virginia, including 79,000 children, above the poverty line ($20,420 for a family of three) in 2017. It also reduces the share of households who lack consistent access to nutritional food and lowers health care costs.  Researchers found that the program had long-term positive impacts on children into adulthood. Those who had access to food stamps (compared to children in low-income families who did not) were less likely to be obese, less likely to be diagnosed with heart disease, and more likely to graduate from high school. It may be due to this effectiveness that SNAP has experienced bipartisan support since the 1960s.

The current Farm Bill proposal will likely weaken the SNAP program and the families it supports, including parents raising kids, people with disabilities, and working people. In cutting more than $17 billion in SNAP benefits, more than 2 million people are likely to lose all or a significant portion of nutrition assistance. This will hit rural localities and small towns in Virginia especially hard …

Changes to the program’s current work requirements, in particular, will burden families with providing proof of work or exemption on a monthly basis. Workers in low-wage jobs typically do not have reliable schedules with consistent hours, and maintaining 20 hours a week every month may be problematic. If their boss cuts their hours, they are temporarily out of work, or they have missed work to care for a sick family member and do not meet the requirement, the bill would cut off assistance for 12 months (36 if it happens again) at a time when they may need it most.

In Goodlatte’s Sixth District, more than 31,000 households depend on SNAP, the majority of them with children under 18. More than three-quarters of these households have someone who worked over the past 12 months.

Goodlatte makes a show of his concern for those without enough food. So why does he want to make it harder for the poorest and most vulnerable of his constituents to feed their families?

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