JFCS and PRISM’s leaders’ commentary on SNAP cuts published in Star Tribune

JFCS’ Advocacy Committee works to raise awareness, further change, and/or advocate funding for mission-related issues that JFCS programs and services address. Food security is one of the committee’s focus areas. In light of recent cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), JFCS CEO Judy Halper and PRISM Executive Director Michelle Ness wrote a commentary that was published in the Star Tribune this month.

Click here and scroll down to read their commentary on startribune.com or see the full letter below:

Trump must stop trimming SNAP

Providing vital nutritional support to people who struggle with financial barriers to obtaining food is a bedrock issue for both of our organizations. That is why we are so concerned about recent changes to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program eligibility proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture using an administrative rulemaking process that circumvents the intent of Congress.

These proposed changes taken together are expected to cause 35,000 Minnesotans to lose food stamp benefits entirely and others to have their benefits significantly reduced. The majority of those most affected include seniors, adults with disabilities and children whose working parents earn low wages. Furthermore, as families lose their SNAP benefits, their children lose automatic access to the school free-lunch program.

One proposed change would penalize households with even modest savings as they become subject to asset limits as low as $2,250. This penalizes seniors and people with disabilities living on fixed incomes as well as low-income working families attempting to create financial stability with savings for a home, a car repair or a health emergency. The food stamp program is already subject to income limitations; families should be encouraged to build savings, not be penalized.

Another proposed change would restrict states’ flexibility to determine the amount of deductions for utilities such as heat and to support families between 130-185% of the federal poverty level as they work to achieve self-sufficiency. Because of our heating costs, Minnesota is one of the states that would be most severely impacted by this change. When the U.S. House and Senate both passed the 2018 farm bill with bipartisan support, they wisely allowed discretion in SNAP funding that is used by three-quarters of all states.

As organizations with over 150 years of combined experience serving low-income Minnesotans, we call upon the U.S. Department of Agriculture to respect the legislation as passed by Congress and to allow states the flexibility to meet the nutrition needs of our residents who struggle to feed themselves and their families. Minnesota charities and state government working together to address hunger have a track record we can be proud of. Let’s keep it that way.


Halper is CEO of Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis and Ness is executive director at PRISM.