Statement attributed to Michael J. Wilson, director, Maryland Hunger Solutions
Baltimore, December 4, 2019 — Earlier today, the Trump administration issued a final rule that would weaken the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — known in Maryland as the Food Supplement Program (FSP) — and take food off the tables of nearly 30,000 Marylanders, many of whom struggle to find sufficient hours of work in areas with few jobs. This regulatory expansion of time limits will result in more food insecurity for those who already are experiencing poverty.
In 1996, when Congress enacted time limits on SNAP (then called food stamps) for certain adults who were unable to document sufficient hours of work each month, Congress provided that states could request from USDA waivers on the time limits for areas with too few jobs. The area waivers are important, although insufficient, safety valves for protecting food assistance for persons who are seeking but unable to find sufficient hours of work. In the decades since, USDA has followed the decision of Congress and processed area waiver requests from governors of both political parties based on accepted economic factors and metrics.
Under the leadership of Governor Hogan, and before him, Governor O’Malley, Maryland has abided by the letter and the spirit of the law, providing waivers to jurisdictions when appropriate.
The administration has now politicized this process, arbitrarily narrowing states’ ability to waive the time limit in many areas with insufficient jobs and removing local flexibility. This action flies in the face of congressional intent, coming almost a year after Congress passed the Farm Bill that left the current area waiver provisions in place.
Most provisions of the rule are slated to take effect on April 1, 2020, unless Congress or the courts act to stop or delay it. If the rule is implemented, the nation would see higher rates of hunger and poverty. The final rule will cause serious harm to individuals and communities across the state, from Western Maryland to Baltimore City to the Eastern Shore, while doing nothing to improve the health and employment of those impacted by the rule. In addition, the rule will harm the economy, grocery retailers, agricultural producers, and communities by reducing the amount of SNAP dollars available to spur local economic activity. Maryland Hunger Solutions will continue to advocate against this deeply flawed and ill-conceived policy change.
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.