JFCS Food Security Program Coordinator testifies against bill that would impose new requirements for SNAP benefits
JFCS addresses immediate food security needs through our own programs and community partnerships, but we don’t lose focus on the big picture either. Through our Advocacy Committee, members of our staff and Board of Directors advocate on issues of importance affecting our clients and community.
Clare Gravon, JFCS Food Security Program Coordinator and a staff liaison to the Advocacy Committee, was one of several people to testify last week against a bill proposed at the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee.
HF118 would add to the requirements faced by households who receive SNAP benefits in an attempt to curb purported abuse by people whose finances are too high to merit the program. To receive benefits, current law stipulates that Minnesota households demonstrate their gross income is at or below 165 percent of the federal poverty line. The proposed bill would add a federal asset limit test. Therefore, families would be judged not only on their income but also the amount of money they already have.
Gravon testified that these requirements would result in negative consequences for many low-income families and would end up driving up costs for the government in the long run.
“Our concern is that this additional test for assets will result in thousands of vulnerable Minnesotans losing access to food and could also lead to increased costs to state and local governments,” Gravon said.
“Many of the people who receive SNAP benefits are low-income seniors,” she added. “SNAP, along with mobile food shelves and Meals on Wheels, helps them stay in their homes longer and live independently. Currently, in order to qualify for SNAP, their income must be below 165 percent of federal poverty guidelines. Forcing people to spend down their assets could have the effect of forcing people onto more expensive government programs faster, driving up costs.”
The Health and Human Services Finance Committee recessed the meeting without taking action on the bill. This asset issue is just one of many about which JFCS advocates in regards to hunger. Members of the Advocacy Committee have met with elected officials at the state and national level to discuss hunger and food security and will continue to advocate on issues of importance affecting our own clients and those of our partner in food security, PRISM.
For video of the House Committee meeting, click here. Gravon appears around the 52:00 mark.
For more information call 952-546-0616.