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Proposed Rule Threatens Cutting the Power of SNAP for 79% of Washington’s SNAP Households

USDA’s latest proposed rule threatens to cut the power of SNAP for 79% of Washington’s SNAP households, according to data released by our state’s Department of Social and Health Services. These households include low-income seniors, low-wage workers, children, and pregnant women. Under the proposed rule, these households could see an average monthly reduction in benefits of $47-the equivalent of at least a week’s worth of food.

The proposed rule takes away states’ flexibility to calculate a standard utility allowance (SUA), used to reduce red tape and help low-income households with high utility bills capture their monthly utility costs when calculating SNAP benefits. The rule proposes an SUA calculation methodology that would be standard across all states, but utility costs across localities can vary greatly due to local energy resources and weather conditions that create different needs for heating and cooling homes. States need the flexibility to calculate their SUA according to local costs for accuracy and efficiency.

Under this proposal, the 377,551 of Washington’s SNAP households that qualify to use an SUA on their SNAP applications will see their monthly benefits cut. The loss of food assistance will exacerbate the difficulty of choosing between heating their homes during winter months or feeding themselves and their families. The loss of food assistance for these households will hurt all of us: with an overall loss of over $16 million in SNAP benefits in Washington State, our local economies will see a loss of over $29.3 million in economic activity.

The proposed rule is the third proposal from USDA in this past calendar year that makes harmful policy changes that take food off the tables of struggling people. We now have only 2.5 weeks left to submit public comments, asking USDA to rescind this proposal.

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