MAZON Opposes Trump Administration’s Most Recent Attack on SNAP

July 23, 2019

MAZON Opposes Trump Administration’s Most Recent Attack on SNAP
Policy Threatens Hard-Working Americans Struggling with Hunger

Washington, DC (July 23, 2019)—In response to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announcement to eliminate “Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility” for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger expressed grave concern at the Administration’s plan to eliminate vital nutrition benefits for people working hard to break the cycle of poverty and put food on the table.

MAZON President & CEO Abby J. Leibman explained, “This proposed elimination of the Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility state option would mean the loss of critically needed SNAP benefits for an estimated 3 million individuals nationwide. It is unconscionable for USDA to propose this change that would increase hunger and hardship in America. This change takes us in exactly the wrong direction at a time when we should be doing more to ensure that all those who struggle are able to put food on the table.”

Categorical eligibility has proven to be a successful flexibility utilized by the vast majority of states over the past 20 years. It simplifies the SNAP application process for both applicants and program administrators.
MAZON Vice President of Public Policy Josh Protas underscored that the USDA proposal is “a brazen attempt to undermine Congressional intent, as clearly expressed in the bipartisan 2018 Farm Bill that rejected a move to eliminate the categorical eligibility state option. Today’s proposed action by the Trump administration would infringe yet again on states’ rights by denying a broadly-utilized and effective flexibility.”

Categorical eligibility gives states the flexibility to provide SNAP benefits to families in need who have already met the stringent qualifications necessary to receive another type of government assistance. The program provides key benefits for working families by mitigating the “benefit cliff,” an obstacle faced by many Americans who struggle to find sufficient employment.

Leibman concluded, “It is unfair and unjust to deny life-sustaining nutrition benefits to families working hard to make ends meet. As an organization founded on Jewish values and teachings, we honor a fundamental value to take care of the most vulnerable among us out of a collective responsibility for each other. Despite the harsh rhetoric, demonization of the poor, and lack of empathy that marks this administration, we are steadfast in cultivating the political will to uplift those whose hunger is often ignored, and to harness the power of our community to fight on behalf of those who are struggling. We recognize that hunger is as prevalent as it is pernicious, and that food insecurity is not restricted to third world countries or people who are experiencing homelessness. We believe that the nearly 40 million Americans who struggle with hunger—including military families, single mothers, college students, Native Americans, and seniors—should have access to healthy and nutritious meals. Government should work to expand, not limit, access to nutritious food for those in need.”