Every five years, Congress passes legislation that sets national agriculture, nutrition, conservation, and forestry policy, commonly referred to as the “Farm Bill.” Included in the Farm Bill is directives around the funding of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly referred to as food stamps.
SNAP is the largest government program that targets food insecurity. Those who qualify based on household resource and income limits receive a monthly allotment that can go towards purchasing groceries and produce.
SNAP particularly helps low-income seniors — many of whom are on fixed incomes — afford food while also covering their other household expenses. According to the National Council on Aging, approximately 4.8 million low-income adults aged 60+ rely on an average SNAP benefit of $128 per month to buy nutritious food.
Access to SNAP is being threatened in the current proposal to renew the Farm Bill. The version of the bill that passed the House of Representatives would make the process of obtaining and keeping SNAP benefits more complicated for older adults and other food insecure households. It would make significant overall cuts to SNAP and impose stricter work requirements on recipients. The House resolution narrowly passed on June 21st by a slim 213-211 margin (see how your representatives voted here).
The Senate bill, which was a far more bi-partisan effort, renewed the Farm Bill without making any cuts to SNAP. (see how your Senators voted here). The House and Senate will now need to negotiate a compromise bill, but they are far apart on several nutrition and farm policies, with SNAP at the center of the debate.
As the battle over SNAP heats up this summer, contact your Congressional representatives and urge them to protect the SNAP program. Older adults are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity and many rely on SNAP in order to have food on their table!
Click here to find the contact information for your Congressional representatives.
To learn more about SNAP, click here.