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July 30, 2019

MassLive: Rep. Jim McGovern and Rep. Ayanna Pressley shocked by roll back in funding for low income earners.

Two Massachusetts representatives commented on the Trump administration’s plan to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, vital funding for low income families.

Long standing champion of anti-hunger programs, Congressman Jim McGovern, thanked freshman Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley for drawing attention the issue, “In the richest country in the history of the world, hunger should be declared illegal!”

To determine eligibility income and resources must meet three requirements; Gross monthly income, net income and assets.

Historically, Massachusetts has been able to set its own gross income limit at 200 percent, the revised scheme will lower this to 130 percent below of the federal poverty line.

Household income after deductions are applied, dependents, child support and medical expenses must be at or below the poverty line.

Under the revised scheme, if the total assets for a family of three is over $2,250, they will not be eligible. Critics state that this perpetuates the problem by disincentivizing and penalizing families if they managed to save even small amounts. If at least one person is over the age of 60 or is disabled households may have $3,500 in assets.

“The benefit on average is $1.40 per person, per meal. You can’t even buy a cup of coffee with that.” Stated McGovern on Radio Boston yesterday. “That’s why most families on SNAP end up at food banks midway through the month.”

“Despite the program’s success, millions of Americans, including roughly half of all households participating in SNAP, are still food insecure, meaning they lack consistent access to enough food to support an active, healthy life.” states the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a progressive American think tank focused on analyzing the impacts of government budget policies. “SNAP benefit levels do not account for the time required to purchase and prepare a healthy diet.”

Congresswoman Pressley also showed her dislike for the strategy via Twitter yesterday. Pressley stated that she has received “pleads” from children regarding the cuts as well as stating that nearly 20 percent of her district rely on SNAP.

Virginia Congressman Bobby Scott, chair of the of the House Committee on Education and Labor, wrote to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Scott emphasized that 500,000 children rely on free school meals in low-income areas.

Aid that is described as a “loophole” on the USDA’s website, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, commented, “Too often, states have misused this flexibility without restraint.”

SNAP has released a statement that those affected by the proposal will be “categorically eligible” to apply for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. However, there is a ceiling on how much they’re allowed to have in their bank accounts meaning they would have to spend their savings to qualify.

Under the revision, 3.1 million Americans will be no longer be eligible for the benefits they have been receiving.