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President’s Budget Slashes Food for Struggling Seniors and Families

The 2018 legislative session is more than half way done, and we are seeing significant movement on our issues: both the House and the Senate passed bills that would prohibit landlords from discriminating against potential renters who have housing vouchers or other public supports to help them pay the rent, and on Monday, the House passed HB 2712, a bill that would eliminate the school lunch co-pay for struggling families in grades pre-K through 3rd grade. But news from the other Washington could severely undermine our state’s best efforts if harsh cuts become a reality.

On Monday, the President’s FY2019 budget was released. Much like last year’s budget, this budget proposes ill-conceived ideas that would worsen hunger and poverty in America. The President’s budget includes a 30% cut to SNAP which would be carried out by doing the following:

  • Replace a portion of SNAP benefits with commodities boxes, a move that will likely be a bureaucratic nightmare while undermining a key benefit of SNAP: the ability to stimulate local economies by using SNAP EBT to purchase food from grocers, farmers markets, and small-scale food retailers.
  • Sets an arbitrary cap on SNAP benefits, penalizing households with more than 6 members.
  • Imposes the time limit on SNAP for unemployed recipients who live in areas of high unemployment.
  • Eliminates the minimum SNAP benefit that primarily helps low-income seniors and people with disabilities: the current minimum benefit is set at $15 per month, but this makes a critical difference for people struggling to meet all their basic costs of living on a fixed income.

The President’s budget further hurts struggling seniors by eliminating the Commodity Supplemental Food Program which provides boxes of commodity foods to low-income seniors.

The President’s budget also cuts funding from housing assistance–as much as 200,000 housing vouchers could be eliminated in a time of high need and long wait lists.

More details and analysis will be coming over the next week, but we must act quickly to speak out against these cuts. The President’s budget, like all budgets, presents a framework and puts ideas into the Congressional conversation about appropriations. Remember that the tax bill signed into law in December added more than $1.5 trillion to our nation’s deficit which sets the stage for Congress to pass drastic spending cuts. Congress needs to hear now that the costs of corporate tax cuts should not be paid with cuts to the programs that are meant to provide basic living supports for all of us during our times of financial hardship and bad luck. Congress must hear from us: hands off these programs that are vital to children, seniors, people with disabilities, and struggling families.