Program needed by many

Published 8:29 am Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Congress spoke a year ago. Democrats and Republicans joined in approving a massive farm bill that included setting the funding and parameters of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps. On July 30, the Trump White House proposed changes in the assistance that break from the consensus. The administration wants to narrow eligibility. In doing so, it would deny food assistance to an estimated 3.1 million people, largely working families with children, seniors and those with disabilities.

Administration officials argue the program is vulnerable to abuse, assistance going to those who are not needy. Thus, it proposes to reduce the flexibility long granted states to expand eligibility in modest ways, say, in allowing assistance for those with incomes slightly above 130 percent of the federal poverty level or those with small levels of personal savings.

(…)Without question, federal officials have an obligation to do all they reasonably can to prevent fraud, and the past decade, the Agriculture Department has become more effective at identifying and halting such activity. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noted last week, to receive food stamps, all households must apply and submit to interviews. They must document their monthly income and expenses. The process qualifies as rigorous.

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(…) This isn’t the first time the Trump White House has attempted to restrict access to food stamps.

(…) Fortunately, the congressional consensus in support of food assistance held firm, lawmakers from both sides alert to the difference the program makes for many families. Now the hope is that such thinking will continue to prevail, the administration falling short in its effort to get around Congress.

— The Akron Beacon Journal