Thirty Utah non-profit organizations have joined Utahns Against Hunger in calling on Utah’s Congressional Delegation to vote no on H.R. 2: The Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, also known as the Farm Bill.
“We were hoping for a bi-partisan effort in the House legislation to improve and strengthen the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). What the current draft of the bill does is propose implementing new policies that will increase hunger and food insecurity for seniors, people with disabilities, and children,” said Gina Cornia, Executive Director at Utahns Against Hunger. “It is disappointing that what should be a nutrition program is being used to advance a political ideology and weaken the safety-net for tens of thousands of Utahns,” Cornia remarked.
Of primary concern for Utahns Against Hunger and other organizations is that this Farm Bill fundamentally changes the nature of SNAP and will take food assistance away from people who do not meet new, expanded work requirements. Work requirements already exist for abled-bodied adults up to the age of 50 without children in the home, who must work, be looking for work, or engaged in work activities at least 20 hours a week. Under these proposed policy changes, parents who don’t meet work requirements will be sanctioned and lose access to food assistance. SNAP benefits are already modest and these sanctions will reduce the amount of assistance families will receive. When there isn’t enough money to buy food the whole household, including children, suffers; research shows that food insecurity has long-term health and education effects on children.
Additionally, the proposed work requirements set a high standard for people with disabilities or other health conditions, such as mental illness, to prove that they cannot work steadily, including documenting that they qualify for an exemption each month. Many people with disabilities and mental illnesses, as well as the people who care for them, will lose their nutrition assistance because they could not successfully navigate their way through the new red tape every month.