The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued yet another proposed rule that would cut SNAP benefits for millions who rely on the program. If this rule goes into effect 7 million people would see their SNAP benefits cut. This cut will only increase hunger in our communities.
On October 3rd the USDA issued a proposed rule that would change the way SNAP benefits are calculated. When someone applies for SNAP their income and expenses determine their eligibility and benefit amount. One area considered in that calculation is a household’s shelter costs, including what a household spends on their utilities. This amount is deducted from the household’s overall income to get a better sense of what a household reasonably has left in their budget to purchase food. To streamline the process, states can set a Standard Utility Allowance (SUA) based on the heating and cooling expenses in their area, which, of course, varies by region. This allows states flexibility in how they calculate those costs, a flexibility the USDA is proposing to remove.
But we can do something about this today! Right now, this is just a proposed rule from the USDA, which is required to listen to your feedback. You can submit a comment to the USDA and it is required to consider each unique one. Whether you want to share just a few words or write a few pages, each comment will help to show the USDA why SNAP is important and why states should have flexibility to consider the heating and cooling costs in their area.
As Philabundance works to connect people in our community with food, we see first-hand how much families are struggling. With low wages and high expenses, individuals and families are working hard but are still unable to make ends meet. Philabundance and other emergency food providers will continue to feed those who need us but we know we cannot make up the difference if SNAP is cut.