Vice President for Food Assistance Policy
President Trump’s 2019 budget proposes to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) by more than $213 billion over the next ten years — or by nearly 30 percent. It calls for radically restructuring the delivery of benefits, which would cut benefits for the overwhelming majority of households, and other benefit and eligibility changes that would leave at least 4 million people losing SNAP benefits altogether. The cuts would affect every type of SNAP participant, including the unemployed, the elderly, individuals with disabilities, and low-income working families with children. The proposed cuts would come on top of other Administration proposals to shrink the safety net, particularly health coverage, and on the heels of a tax law that will mainly benefit the wealthy and corporations and is expected to add $1.5 trillion to deficits over ten years.
Among other SNAP cuts, the President’s budget would:
While USDA routinely buys and distributes commodities to entities that run and operate government food programs (such as school districts or state agencies that work with local food banks), this new proposal to support individual households would require operational capacity and infrastructure that neither USDA nor states now have. This unprecedented proposal puts access to food at risk for 1 in 10 Americans on the faulty assumption that government can buy and provide food more efficiently than millions of American households.
(Note: The budget contains a gross SNAP cut of more than $216 billion over ten years. It allocates an additional $2.5 billion over ten years for new state administrative costs associated with distributing the proposed food boxes, which leaves a net cut of more than $213 billion.)
SNAP is a highly effective program targeted to households that need its help to meet their basic food needs. With a small average benefit of just $1.40 per person per meal, it lifts millions out of poverty, and it has demonstrated long-term benefits for children that participate, including better health and education outcomes. The President’s SNAP proposals remain as ill-advised and harmful as they were last year.