For Immediate Release: February 15, 2018
Media Contact: Cindy Huddleston, Florida Legal Services
President’s Cuts to Food Assistance Would Be Destructive to Low-Income Seniors & Families
The President’s budget proposal to cut Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP) by nearly 30 percent will hurt Florida communities and harm every type of SNAP participant in our state. SNAP is the new name for what used to be called the Food Stamp program. In Florida, almost 60% of SNAP participants are in families with children, more than 33% are in families with members who are either elderly or have disabilities, and almost 41% are in working families. The President's budget would cut off the SNAP, called Food Assistance in Florida, of certain elderly Floridians after three months if they do not have jobs.
“SNAP recipients under the age of 62 will lose their SNAP if they aren’t raising minor children and aren't disabled unless they can find a job. This ignores age discrimination and the fact that it is harder to find jobs as you get older,” says Cindy Huddleston, an attorney with Florida Legal Services, Inc.
In addition, the President’s budget would eliminate what is called the SNAP Minimum Benefit Allotment, which is provided mainly to low-income seniors and persons and disabilities. The Minimum Benefit Allotment allows 1 and 2 person households with low-income to get at least $15 a month. As Huddleston points out, “That may not sound like much but we see seniors who rely on the Minimum Allotment to buy milk and eggs for the entire month.” Approximately 171,000 Floridians receive the SNAP Minimum Benefit Allotment in Florida.
Among other proposed cuts, the President’s budget would shift billions of dollars in food purchasing from individual households to the government by replacing benefits with boxes of non-perishable foods. According to Huddleston, “The cost and logistics of gathering, assembling and delivering boxes of food for the more than 1,738,024 families on SNAP in Florida alone is mind-boggling and adds unnecessary layers of red-tape to a distribution process that works smoothly as it is right now.”
Local economies in Florida are bolstered by the influx of SNAP benefits to neighborhood communities and will be significantly impacted by the 30% cut in SNAP set out in the President's budget. “It is impossible to cut SNAP by 30% without harming not only vulnerable Floridians but also the communities in which they live. In 2016 alone, SNAP pumped about $5.2 billion into Florida's economy,” adds Huddleston, “and SNAP is one of the state of Florida’s most powerful and cost-effective tools to keep Floridians out of poverty and strengthen the economy.”
Florida Legal Services is a statewide leader in advancing economic, social and racial justice. FLS advocates for poor, vulnerable and hard to reach people through impact litigation, legislative and administrative advocacy, education and strategic partnerships.