Governor Andrew Cuomo urged Congress on Friday to protect New York families by rejecting the federal government’s cuts to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP).
SNAP helps 2.8 million New Yorkers, or nearly 1.6 million households, get food on the table by offering assistance to eligible, low-income individuals and families and provides economic benefits to communities. Nearly two-thirds of SNAP participants are in families with children.
Forty-three percent of recipients are in families with older adults or someone who is disabled, and twenty-seven percent of total SNAP participants are in families that are working but earn too little to feed themselves.
Under President Trump’s proposed budget, funding for SNAP would be reduced 30 percent. There are also plans to shift from the current system and a portion of their benefit would be placed in a prepackaged food called “Harvest Boxes,” which would include items such as shelf-stable milk, ready-to-eat cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans and canned fruits and vegetables.
The proposal, according to Cuomo, would cut millions of New Yorkers’ spendable benefits in half will both have a massive effect on the state’s economy, and severely limit families’ ability to purchase fresh fruit and vegetables.
Other cuts in the Trump administration’s plan includes eliminating $23 million in SNAP Nutrition and Education grants for New York , eliminating the minimum benefit for one and two-person households, capping benefits for larger families, and eliminating waivers that permits states to exempt individuals from very stringent federal work requirements while simultaneously raising the age of those work requirements from 50 to 62 years of age.
“The Trump Administration’s Harvest Box proposal makes their priorities crystal clear by slashing critical assistance to families in need to fund tax cuts for corporations,” Cuomo said. “This is an unnecessary change to an effective, important program and I urge Congress to reverse this effort to take food away from New York’s hungry families.”
An analysis found that every $1 SNAP benefit spent in New York State generates nearly $1.70 in economic activity. The proposed “Harvest Box” budget does not address how the food will be distributed to low-income individuals.
The proposed budget threatens the progress that SNAP has made in New York. The minimum threshold for qualifying income was raised from 130 percent of the federal poverty level to 150 percent, allowing working families to earn more through employment and not risk losing their benefits. Farmers markets can now accept SNAP benefits and funding for the FreshConnect Checks program and SNAP outreach to eligible families.