Statement by Michael J. Wilson, director, Maryland Hunger Solutions
Baltimore, May 24, 2017 — “The president’s FY 2018 budget (pdf) includes an attack on the most important nutrition program for hundreds of thousands of Marylanders who live in households that have been left behind in the nation’s ongoing economic recovery.
“The budget proposes $193 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps and called the Food Supplement Program in Maryland) over the next 10 years. These cuts, which would slash SNAP by an unprecedented 25 percent, will dismantle a proven and effective program that provides a path out of hunger and poverty.
“The biggest cut would come from a brand new cost-sharing scheme designed to create cuts to both benefits and eligibility. It mandates that states pay for a percentage of federal SNAP benefits (to be phased in, starting with a 10 percent match in 2020 and hitting 25 percent by 2023). This cataclysmic change to the structure of the program would likely force Maryland to cut benefits and eligibility in order to pay for the match.
“The president’s budget proposal also places new time limits on unemployed and underemployed adults, forcing them to go hungry as they search for employment and hold down part-time, low-wage jobs and try to climb the economic ladder. The budget should instead be focusing on creating a system that offers adequate job and job-training opportunities.
“Other damage to SNAP would come from proposals to limit benefits for larger households, eliminate the minimum benefit (disproportionately harming seniors), prohibit states from assisting working poor families with incomes over 130 percent of the federal poverty level, and create fees for retailers to participate in the program, which would likely increase food deserts, already prevalent in Baltimore City and some of Maryland’s rural areas.
“SNAP, along with school meals, afterschool and summer meals, child care meals, WIC, and emergency commodity programs are proven and effective federal programs that are vital to ensuring that struggling Marylanders — including children, adults, seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, the jobless, and low-wage workers — get the nutrition they need for their health and well-being.
“Nearly 1 in 8 Marylanders live in households that struggle against hunger. The president’s budget cuts to SNAP would make hunger even worse in the years ahead.
“The SNAP cuts are proposed alongside other brutal cuts that would impact low-income individuals and families across the state: the budget proposes $627 billion in cuts to Medicaid; $21 billion to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program; and a $40 billion reduction to the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. Shredding these programs, which, along with SNAP and the child nutrition programs, serve as the primary components of our nation’s safety net, will have a devastating domino effect on the food security, health, learning, and productivity of Marylanders in rural, suburban, and urban areas alike.
“These proposed cuts to SNAP and other safety net programs are cruel and unacceptable. Maryland Hunger Solutions will be working with its partners across the state to urge the Maryland Congressional Delegation to advocate on behalf of its most vulnerable residents, and work with us in demanding that Congress prevent these cuts. Congress must return to its historic bipartisan commitment to protect nutrition assistance programs and reject budget proposals that abdicate federal responsibility and deprive struggling and hungry Americans of access to nutritious food.”
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Maryland Hunger Solutions, an initiative of the Food Research & Action Center, works to end hunger throughout the state of Maryland.