In Defense of a Dignified SNAP: The 2018 Farm Bill
Members of Congress frame SNAP as a crucial way to help break the cycle of poverty, but proposed restrictions would do the opposite.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly called food stamps, is the largest program within the domestic hunger safety net aimed at providing necessary resources, improving dietary intake, and alleviating poverty for vulnerable Americans. SNAP is authorized and appropriated by Congress within Title IV of the Farm Bill, accounting for nearly 80 percent of the Farm Bill’s budget. The vote on HR 2, the Agriculture Improvement Act, failed in the House of Representatives on May 18, 2018. A second version supported only by Republican members passed in a tight vote on June 21. The Senate passed their version a week later.
Pressing threats to SNAP in the latest legislation include expanding work requirements, measures to improve “integrity” by making proof of eligibility increasingly burdensome, restricting EBT card replacement allowances, and creating an unwieldy national database in order to prevent duplicative enrollment. These changes are notable in that they both ignore participants’ dignity and add bureaucratic complexity that would discourage people in need from accessing SNAP. This policy brief will explain the proposed changes and consider them in the context of human dignity and poverty alleviation.