The following statement has been submitted for public comment, in response to the proposed rule issued by the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS).
Foodlink, the regional food bank based in Rochester, NY, opposes the administration’s latest attempt to slash SNAP enrollment, which will threaten the health and wellbeing of New Yorkers who rely on our programs and services.
We strongly oppose the proposed rule (RIN 0584-AE69) to standardize state heating and cooling Standard Utility Allowances (SUAs), which would result in a decrease in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for more than 7 million Americans nationwide. By eliminating a state’s ability to calculate its own average utility costs, more than 450,000 New Yorkers would lose an average of $63 in SNAP benefits as part of an 8% decrease in benefits statewide. According to the USDA’s Regulatory Impact Analysis, 31% of New York households would see a reduction in SNAP.
SUBMIT A COMMENT: Visit Regulations.gov (Deadline: Dec. 2)
Low-income individuals rely on SNAP to feed themselves and their families because the work of food banks and other charitable organizations alone cannot adequately meet the needs of our community. Last year, Foodlink distributed 19 million pounds of food – its highest total ever. Still, that only accounted for 50% of the “Meal Gap” throughout the 10 counties we serve. For every one meal that a Feeding America member food bank provides, SNAP provides nine. It has been, and remains, the first line of defense against hunger.
When SNAP is cut, poverty rises. When poverty rises, the health of our communities suffers. Last year, SNAP lifted more than 3.1 million Americans out of poverty. A comprehensive report released in Rochester this week detailed how poverty is the region’s top health concern. Its analysis found that the health inequities that stem from poverty result in more years of life lost than all forms of cancer combined. Simply put, reducing or eliminating SNAP benefits for households that struggle to put food on the table will only exacerbate this critical issue.
This is the third major attempt by the administration to sidestep the legislative process – the 2018 Farm Bill – and take direct aim at cutting SNAP for poor Americans. With this proposal alone, Feeding America projects a loss of 568 million meals. We urge the administration to withdraw this dangerous proposal, and help the individuals and families we serve access the food they need to live healthier lives.