Source: United States House of Representatives – Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (1st District of Washington)
Today, Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01) and Congresswoman Kim Schrier (WA-08) were joined by SNAP recipients and activists for a discussion on the Trump administration’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) rule changes and the effects they will have on Washingtonians. The event took place at Northwest Harvest’s SODO Community Market in downtown Seattle. DelBene and Schrier toured the market and volunteered at a check stand.
Speakers at the event included Thomas Reynolds, CEO for Northwest Harvest; Jennifer Antos, Executive Director, Seattle Neighborhood Markets Association; Samantha Poster, Employment and Training Program Manager at Seattle Goodwill Industries; Dante Pollard, Renton Technical College student; and Chris Suh, Public Policy Engagement Manager, Northwest Harvest.
“I have long been a supporter of SNAP, which helps those in need across the U.S. gain access to nutritious food and supports a basic standard of living,” said DelBene. “The Trump Administration’s new rule would take vital nutrition assistance from those who need it most. Today’s event was important for those of us working to right these wrongs in D.C. to help us understand the true human impact that this rule and others like it will have on our communities. The 68,000 Washingtonians who would lose their benefits are not just a statistic, they are people struggling to get by. This rule will only make things worse for them.”
“SNAP benefits are not a luxury, they are a need. One in nine families in the 8th district depends on SNAP. People who have access to healthy food are better workers. Well-nourished children are better learners, have fewer behavior problems, and grow up to be more successful. The series of cuts by the Administration to SNAP are draconian. Not only are more families losing access to food, but they are also adding layers of unneeded bureaucracy. In the 2018 Farm Bill, Democrats and Republicans came together and agreed these cuts were harmful and unnecessary. We need to be investing in workers and families. Not making it harder for our children and communities to thrive,” said Rep. Schrier.
“These rules are harmful and mean-spirited, formulated on deeply cynical and fundamentally wrong perceptions about who receives SNAP. They undermine years of program efficiencies and the improved health and education outcomes that purchasing nutritious food with SNAP has provided for millions of Americans. These proposals do nothing to reduce the underlying need for food assistance: they only take away an important resource from struggling families and shift the work and costs of meeting this need to the private sector. Thank you to Representatives DelBene and Schrier for drawing attention to this issue,” said Thomas Reynolds, CEO of Northwest Harvest.
In December 2019, the Trump administration announced a rule change that would throw 700,000 people off of SNAP benefits, including roughly 68,000 Washingtonians. The new rule would impose stricter work requirements on able-bodied adults without dependents. Currently, able-bodied adults without dependents on SNAP are restricted to three months of benefits over three years, unless they’re employed or are in a certified SNAP employment and training program for at least 80 hours per month. However, states are allowed to seek waivers for cities and counties with higher unemployment rates. Under the new rule, a county’s unemployment rate must exceed six percent over the previous 24 months in order to be granted a waiver, which will hurt people living in areas where it’s harder to find work.
DelBene has been a leader in Congress on the issue of food insecurity. She previously spearheaded efforts to reduce food insecurity in Washington state and across the country. In 2015, she passed legislation to provide $200 million to expand job-training opportunities for recipients of SNAP. Washington state received $22 million as part of this program. She voted against efforts by the Trump Administration and congressional Republicans to cut programs that provide food assistance.
Schrier, a pediatrician, is on both the Agriculture and Education and Labor Committees. On these committees she has championed efforts to increase access to healthy school meals and fought back against Trump Administration efforts to restrict children and families from SNAP benefits and school lunches. She is also working to address food insecurity among college students with her introduction of the College Affordability Act. In September, Rep. Schrier and Sen. Patty Murray led a letter to USDA strongly pushing back on the Administration’s short-sighted rule and urging it to be rescinded as soon as possible.