Tester Condemns USDA Decision to Rip SNAP Benefits from More Than 3 Million Americans

Proposed rule would put working families—and their kids—at risk of losing critical food security benefits

U.S. Senator Jon Tester slammed a recent Trump Administration rule to rip a critical food aid program from millions of working families who need temporary help getting dinner on the table.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the proposed rule would cut 3.1 million Americans—specifically working families—from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides assistance for food purchases to low-income households. SNAP is currently set up to help families feed their kids while they recover from financial instability.

“We should be working to improve nutrition assistance programs for working families who are just trying to feed their kids,” Tester said. “Instead, policies out of Washington, DC are recklessly stripping away what little help they have putting food on the table. This baseless decision will hurt the 3 million Americans who need it most, and I will be fighting like hell to stop it.”

The USDA rule slashes a program that gives households qualifying for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) categorical eligibility when applying for SNAP—a process that allows families receiving federal assistance from TANF to go through an easier qualification process for SNAP. This reduces administrative burdens when processing burdensome SNAP applications, freeing up time for caseworkers. During debate on last year’s Farm Bill, Republicans and Democrats came together to oppose similar measures that would have cut SNAP benefits for low-income Americans.

The USDA also announced that implementation of the rule would remove more than 500,000 kids from automatically qualifying for free school lunches. Though many would be eligible for other school lunch assistance programs, they would be forced to reapply, temporarily removing their access to food security during the time it takes to get processed for an alternative.

In an effort to expand resources for kids who live in unstable food environments—rather than cut them—Tester is backing two bipartisan bills that would increase availability for kids to receive meals in the summer through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) in rural areas that are consistently underserved.

The Hunger-Free Summer for Kids Act would allow SFSP meals to be consumed offsite by using mobile feeding programs that are already in place (such as senior meal distribution) and expands the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer program to provide much needed flexibility for eligible families. Tester has also agreed to support the Summer Meals Act, which expands SFSP in rural areas by reducing the eligibility threshold for areas qualifying for SFSP sites, supporting more options to deliver meals, and increasing the number of meals that sites are allowed to provide.

Full text for the Hunger-Free Summer for Kids Act is available HERE and text for the Summer Meals Act is available HERE.