410-528-0021, ext. 3018
BALTIMORE, August 22, 2019 — Maryland Hunger Solutions is joining Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors in opposing the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) proposed rule regarding broad-based categorical eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). In Maryland, it’s estimated that up to 50,000 people could lose SNAP benefits.
Maryland is one of more than 40 states currently implementing categorical eligibility (Cat El), which allows the state to streamline the SNAP application process, eliminate asset tests, and assess the circumstances of more working households to determine what, if any, SNAP benefit their low net incomes qualify them to receive. Gutting this streamlining option would mean increased government spending on processing and red tape. As the USDA’s own estimates make clear, the proposed rule will increase government administrative costs by over $2.3 billion.
“Contrary to what USDA has alleged, categorical eligibility is not a loophole. It is an efficient, effective use of government resources to ensure that eligible Marylanders can utilize the program as it’s intended.” said Michael J. Wilson, director of Maryland Hunger Solutions. “For years, many states have been using categorical eligibility, including Georgia, where Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue served as governor.”
The current Cat El option has been thoroughly vetted over the last two decades. It is the product of formal rulemaking, and Congress has repeatedly rejected proposals to change it — most recently in the 2018 Farm Bill. This proposal is yet another example of the Trump administration’s attempts to sidestep Congress to push through unnecessary and harmful regulatory changes. Unfortunately, it is Maryland’s most vulnerable residents — children, seniors, and people with disabilities — who would suffer the consequences of unnecessary and preventable hunger.
“If enacted as proposed, this rule would take meals from seniors, prevent children from participating in free school meals, and make it more complicated for Maryland to authorize benefits to those who are clearly eligible and in need,” said Wilson. “We urge Marylanders to oppose this policy change by voicing their opposition to USDA.”
Maryland Hunger Solutions, an initiative of the Food Research & Action Center, works to end hunger and improve the nutrition, health, and well-being of children and families in Maryland.