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Proposed Changes Called Threat to Food Security

Only 41 percent of eligible elderly households are participating in SNAP. (USDA)
Only 41 percent of eligible elderly households are participating in SNAP. (USDA)
September 4, 2018

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Congress is debating changes that would tighten access to SNAP, the federal nutrition program that helps 1.8 million Pennsylvanians get the food they need to stay healthy.

The Farm Bill, which includes SNAP, is set to expire on September 30. House Republicans have passed a reauthorization bill that would expand work requirements for people aged 50-59.

According to Joanne Grossi, president of the AARP in Pennsylvania, older Americans, especially those 50 and older, have a harder time finding work after experiencing a period of unemployment.

"If they make this work requirement come true, that is going to be really harmful to our over-50 population who rely on SNAP benefits to help them get the food they need,” Grossi said.

She added that approximately 10 million Americans 50 and older struggle with food insecurity, making SNAP essential to their health and economic security.

Grossi pointed out SNAP is also under threat from the White House. The president has proposed cutting the program by 30 percent - more than $213 billion - over ten years. Grossi said that would put millions of vulnerable Americans at risk.

"This is a program that helps people have healthy choices,” she said; “that they can not have to make decisions between what food they buy or buying even medical supplies or prescription drugs."

Grossi noted that access to SNAP benefits also can lead to improved health and reduced health care costs.

Nationwide, only 41 percent of eligible elderly households access SNAP benefits. Grossi said rather than cutting funds and restricting access, national leaders should be expanding outreach to ensure all those who need assistance are getting it.

"We want Congress and the White House to eliminate any work requirement and keep the program funded the way it should be,” she said; “because this is really a life-and-death situation for people."

More information is available at AARP.org.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA