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Brexit wins at the polls in the U.K.; major changes come to New England immigration courts today; and more than a million acres in California have been cleared for oil and gas drilling.

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Millions Could Lose Food Assistance Under Proposed SNAP Change

A proposed rule change from the USDA could mean 60,000 fewer Oregonians would receive SNAP benefits, potentially straining resources like food banks. (Oregon Food Bank)
A proposed rule change from the USDA could mean 60,000 fewer Oregonians would receive SNAP benefits, potentially straining resources like food banks. (Oregon Food Bank)
July 26, 2019

PORTLAND, Ore. – Anti-hunger advocates are pushing back against a Trump administration proposal that could kick more than three million people off food stamps.

Under the current rule, qualified recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families are automatically enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or 'SNAP.' Oregon and 42 other states use the rule to streamline the process for receiving food benefits.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue sees it as a "loophole," and says eliminating it would save $2.5 billion. But Jeff Kleen, public policy advocate with Oregon Food Bank, says the government is neglecting its role to help people meet their basic needs.

"It's extremely frustrating to see government action that would actually increase hunger,” says Kleen. “It is the government's role to reduce hunger, not increase it."

The Oregon Department of Human Services still is calculating how many people in the state could be affected by a rule change. The Oregonian reports that if the state is affected to the same degree as the rest of the country, nearly 60,000 people would lose assistance.

The rule change would also mean an estimated 265,000 kids nationwide would no longer be automatically qualified for free lunches at school. Kleen notes that flexible eligibility provisions for states are reviewed by members of Congress every five years when the Farm Bill comes up – and Congress continues to approve them.

"Most recently last December, when the Farm Bill was reauthorized in 2018,” says Kleen. “So, this is another effort by the administration to go around Congress and implement a change that Congress doesn't approve of."

Kleen adds that while food banks do what they can to fill the hunger gap, their efforts pale in comparison to SNAP benefits. Nationally, SNAP provides 12 meals for every one meal that food banks provide.

A public comment period on the proposal is open until September 23.

Disclosure: Oregon Food Bank contributes to our fund for reporting on Hunger/Food/Nutrition. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR