Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Federal budget cutters take aim at food stamps, By Jessica Wehrman, June 18, 2017, Columbus Dispatch: “President Donald Trump’s budget would slash the federal food-assistance program by 25 percent, saddling states such as Ohio with the cost of feeding the hungriest among them. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps, dates to 1964 — pilot programs existed before then — and, to hear advocates tell it, has been one of the nation’s most effective anti-hunger programs…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

  • Florida, like Trump, considered saving money by cutting food stamps, By Katishi Maake, June 6, 2017, Charlotte Observer: “It’s not just President Donald Trump trying to cut back on food stamps. Months before Trump submitted a federal budget that would ax $193 billion from the benefits program, Florida lawmakers earlier this year tried – and failed – to cut money from the state’s share of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, pushing legislation that would have cut off all but the neediest families…”
  • ‘I’ve got to make $15 stretch’: Food stamp cuts hit Alabama’s Black Belt hard, By Connor Sheets, June 10, 2017, AL.com: “Ricky Minor receives $16 worth of food stamps every month. The 54-year-old, who lives in Aliceville, a small Pickens County town in Alabama’s impoverished Black Belt region, is certified as 100 percent disabled, unable to work because he has lung cancer. ‘If you buy the chicken and the bread with the $16, you don’t have enough to get the grease to cook it,’ he said Thursday…”
  • Food stamps still heavily used in Minnesota, raising worry over Trump’s proposed cuts to program, By Maya Rao, June 15, 2017, Minneapolis Star Tribune: “Demand for food stamps in Minnesota rose dramatically in the past decade, and remains high even as the economy improved in recent years. That has anti-hunger advocates in the state preparing to fight cuts in federal food assistance proposed by the Trump administration…”

Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program

Proposed elimination of LIHEAP funding elicits concern, By David Blanchette, June 7, 2017, State Journal-Register: “President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for fiscal 2018 would eliminate federal funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a 40-year-old grant program that helps low-income households pay their utility bills and avoid shutoffs during winter cold or summer heat. If approved by Congress, the move could affect 6.7 million American families, including more than 330,000 in Illinois…”

State TANF Programs

States with more black people have less generous welfare benefits, study says, By Tracy Jan, June 6, 2017, Washington Post: “How much cash welfare assistance families in poverty receive largely depends on where they live, with welfare eroding in every state except Oregon during the past 20 years, according to a new study by the Urban Institute. The study, released Tuesday, unveils wide racial and geographic disparities in how states distribute cash welfare, known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)…”

Food Insecurity and Assistance – California

  • How L.A. County is trying to sign more people up for food stamps — and why it’s not easy, By Nina Agrawal, May 29, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “Vickie Williams’ favorite meal is baked chicken, string beans and corn on the cob. She often makes it for Sunday dinner for her 81-year-old mother, five grown children and four grandchildren. Williams, a 58-year-old Gardena resident and former school cafeteria worker, estimates she spends at least $30 of the $194 in food stamps she receives each month on the meal. She doesn’t know how she’d get by without the help…”
  • Nearly 1 in 4 San Franciscans struggle with hunger, By Tara Duggan, May 24, 2017, San Francisco Chronicle: “According to the SF-Marin Food Bank, 23 percent of San Francisco residents struggle with hunger. The number is a striking amount, and much higher than the city’s homeless population, which the city said was 6,686 in 2015 (though others estimate it to be much higher), making it less than 1 percent of the population. Food insecurity is an often-misunderstood topic that has been thrust into the national conversation, given the White House’s federal budget proposal that aims to cut the food stamp program by $193 billion over 10 years, a reduction of 25 percent…”

Assistance Programs and Work Requirements

  • Trump wants families on food stamps to get jobs. The majority already work, By Maria Godoy and Allison Aubrey, May 24, 2017, National Public Radio: “When President Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, unveiled the administration’s budget blueprint earlier this week, which calls for significant cuts to food stamps, he noted that the aim of the budget was to get people working. ‘If you’re on food stamps and you’re able-bodied, we need you to go to work. If you’re on disability insurance and you’re not supposed to be — if you’re not truly disabled, we need you to go back to work,’ Mulvaney said Tuesday. But the reality is, many people (44 percent) who rely on SNAP — the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, as food stamps is now known — have at least one person in the family working, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture…”
  • The people left behind when only the ‘deserving’ poor get help, By Annie Lowrey, May 25, 2017, The Atlantic: “In the eyes of the state of Maine, Laurie Kane is an able-bodied adult without dependents, and thus ineligible for most forms of government support. In her own eyes, it is hard to see how she is going to find housing, work, and stability without help. Kane is struggling to put her life back together amid a spell of homelessness that has lasted for three years. She has a severe anxiety condition, along with other health problems, and had suffered a panic attack on the day I met her. But she had not managed to sign up for MaineCare, the state’s Medicaid program, because she cannot get a doctor to certify her as being disabled. That’s not because a doctor has evaluated her and found her to be fine, but because she’s been unable to get a doctor’s appointment…”

SNAP Work Requirements – Georgia

Thousands dropped from food stamps due to work requirements, By Craig Schneider, May 24, 2017, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Thousands of Georgians have lost their food stamps after the state gave them an ultimatum: Get a job or lose your benefits. Is that good news or bad news? Depends who you talk to. Placing work requirements on food stamps has proven controversial across the country, with opinions often divided along political lines.  Georgia has been rolling out work requirements for food stamp recipients for over a year. The latest round affected some 12,000 people in 21 counties, several in metro Atlanta, who are considered able-bodied without children…”

State Benefit Program Eligibility Checks

What happens when states go hunting for welfare fraud, By Jen Fifield, May 24, 2017, Stateline: “By the time Illinois decided to crack down on Medicaid fraud in 2012, state officials knew that many people enrolled in the program probably weren’t eligible. For years, caseworkers hadn’t had the time or resources to check. To catch up, the state hired a private contractor to identify people who might not be eligible for the low-income health program and to make recommendations for whose benefits should be canceled. Within about a year, Illinois had canceled benefits for nearly 150,000 people whose eligibility could not be verified — and saved an estimated $70 million…”

Wisconsin Poverty Report

UW-Madison researchers find modest drop in Wisconsin poverty rates, By Bill Glauber, May 23, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Boosted by a growth in jobs, poverty in Wisconsin dropped from 10.8% in 2014 to 9.7% in 2015 according to the Wisconsin Poverty Measure. It is the lowest poverty rate recorded since the WPM was introduced nine years ago by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Institute of Research on Poverty…”

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

Federal home heating assistance program is safe, for now, Associated Press, May 8, 2017, CBS News: “The federal program that helps low-income people heat their homes in the winter and, in some areas, cool them in the summer has been saved from elimination in the just-passed federal budget. While that’s good news for people who used the program in the just-finished heating season, next year’s funding will have to be negotiated by Congress as part of next year’s federal spending…”

LIHEAP and Native Americans

Native American tribes fear end of federal heating help, Associated Press, April 15, 2017, Billings Gazette: “Eva Iyotte was waiting on propane ordered under a federal energy assistance program President Donald Trump has targeted for elimination when she lost power at her home on frozen tribal land in South Dakota.  As the January conditions sent temperatures plummeting inside the house, the 63-year-old, her daughter and two grandsons took blankets to their car, where they waited with the heater running until the electricity was restored…”

State SNAP programs

Republicans hope Trump amenable to food stamp restrictions, By Marina Villeneuve (AP), April 8, 2017, Denver Post: “Maine resident Zak McCutcheon says he likes soda but acknowledges he’d drink less of it if his governor convinced Republican President Donald Trump to put restrictions on the approximately $200 a month he receives in food stamps. He thinks it may even make recipients healthier and less overweight.  ‘If I was more restricted to what I could buy, I would become more of a veggie eater,’ said McCutcheon, who recently perused grapes and packages of pre-chopped vegetables at an Augusta food bank with his pregnant girlfriend.  But another one of Maine’s 180,000 food stamp recipients, Samantha Watson, said she believes a ban from using food stamps on soda and candy won’t make low-income people any healthier. It would take more than that to change eating habits, she said, since food stamps cover only a fraction of the monthly grocery bill for herself and her 3-year-old daughter…”

Military Families and Food Insecurity

When active-duty service members struggle to feed their families, By Dorian Merina, April 19, 2017, National Public Radio: “Kara Dethlefsen lined up early on a recent morning for the food pantry at the Camp Pendleton Marine Base near San Diego. She and her husband, both active-duty Marines, took turns holding their 4-month-old daughter. ‘We most like to get the avocados, lemons, some vegetables to cook up,’ says Dethlefsen, 27, who first heard about the pantry from an on-base nurse after giving birth.  ‘This probably saves us anywhere from $100-300 each time we come,’ she says. That’s key for her young family. Her husband is getting ready to transition to civilian life after five years of military service, and they’re not sure what financial challenges that could bring…”

Drug Testing and Public Assistance Programs

  • Want Medicaid coverage? A drug test should come first, Wisconsin governor says, By Paige Winfield Cunningham, April 2, 2017, Washington Post: “Now that House Republicans have squandered their shot at reordering Medicaid, governors who want conservative changes in the health program for ­low-income Americans must get special permission from the Trump administration. Near the front of the line is Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican who not only supports work requirements and premium payments but also a new additional condition: to make applicants undergo a drug test if they’re suspected of substance abuse…”
  • In need of public assistance? You might need $40 and a drug test to get it., By Michael Auslen, March 13, 2017, Miami Herald: “Welfare recipients with a history of drug convictions could have to pass a drug test before receiving benefits under legislation pushed by two Tampa Bay lawmakers, a narrow rewrite of a much-maligned 2011 state law that federal judges threw out as unconstitutional…”
  • Few Maine welfare recipients tested for drugs despite state law, By Maria Villeneuve (AP), Portland Press Herald: “Republican Gov. Paul LePage has long contended that drug-testing welfare recipients will help protect taxpayers’ dollars, but only a handful have submitted to tests under the current law. His administration blames Democrats for the scant results…”

Welfare Reform – Maine

Gov. LePage tells legislators: Turn my welfare actions into permanent law, By Kevin Miller, March 28, 2017, Portland Press Herald: “Gov. Paul LePage unveiled a package of proposed welfare changes Tuesday that seek to put into law the executive actions his administration has made to tighten access to assistance programs while beefing up work requirements. Several of the proposals outlined by LePage were introduced as bills in the past but have failed in the Legislature in the face of opposition from Democrats and advocates for low-income Mainers…”

Immigrant Families and Assistance Programs

  • Deportation fears prompt immigrants to cancel food stamps, By Pam Fessler, March 28, 2017, National Public Radio: “Groups that help low-income families get food assistance are alarmed by a recent drop in the number of immigrants seeking help. Some families are even canceling their food stamps and other government benefits, for fear that receiving them will affect their immigration status or lead to deportation. Many of the concerns appear to be unfounded but have been fueled by the Trump administration’s tough stance on immigration…”
  • Trump’s anti-immigrant policies are scaring eligible families away from the safety net, By Annie Lowrey, March 24, 2017, The Atlantic: “As the evening rush hour peaked, Blanca Palomeque stationed herself by the carts selling roasted corn, tamales, and ice cream at the exit to the 90th Street-Elmhurst Avenue subway stop in Queens. She spotted a woman pushing a baby in a pink stroller and tugging along two school-aged girls with pigtails. ‘Excuse me, good afternoon, how are you?’ Palomeque said in Spanish. ‘Do you have food stamps for your children? Here is some information.’ She pushed a flyer into the mother’s hand before rushing over to a pregnant woman to speak with her as well. Palomeque repeated this process over and over again until the trains became less crowded, urging mothers and fathers and grandparents to look into their eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Medicaid, for themselves, for their children, for a friend, for a neighbor…”

Refugee Resettlement – North Dakota

Federal funds give refugees a start, but communities offer local safety net, By Andrew Haffner, March 28, 2017, Grand Forks Herald: “When she’s not behind the counter at Al Amin Grocery in Grand Forks, Ilhaam Hassan is helping fellow members of the local Somali refugee community find their way in a new land. Hassan, a native of Somalia, came to the U.S. in 1999 when she was just a child. Now in her early 30s, Hassan’s fluency in English has opened a role for her as an interpreter with the local office of Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, the agency tasked with resettling refugees, many of whom are Somalis, in the state’s most populous cities: Fargo, Bismarck and Grand Forks. With her own passage a distant memory, Hassan now works with those refugees from Somalia who now find themselves in northeast North Dakota. Even with help from the federal government and local civic groups, she says the transition is difficult for new arrivals…”

SNAP Work Requirements – Georgia

Able-bodied food stamp recipients could lose benefits, By Craig Schneider, March 27, 2017, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Days from now, thousands more Georgia food stamp recipients would lose their benefits if they fail to find a job. The April 1 deadline applies to nearly 12,000 adults – all deemed able-bodied and without children – in 21 counties, including many in North Georgia and several in the Atlanta area such as Forsyth, Bartow and Barrow. A wave of people is expected to lose benefits in Georgia because of the mandate. When work requirements have been introduced in other states, more than half the affected people often lose their food stamps. And three counties in Georgia that put the work mandate in place last year have seen their rolls significantly decline…”

SNAP Eligibility – New Hampshire

Bill could drastically change eligibility for food stamps in N.H., By Ella Nilsen, February 21, 2017, Concord Monitor: “A new bill that would change the requirements to get food stamps in New Hampshire could have dramatic impact on the welfare program.  Depending on whom you ask, it’s either needed reform or a devastating move that could throw 17,000 people in the state off food assistance.  The bill, introduced by state Sen. Kevin Avard, a Republican from Nashua, would change the way the state’s Department of Health and Human Services evaluates families for the food stamp program, requiring them to use federal limits for food stamp eligibility.  The legislation also requires individuals receiving food stamps to pay their child support…”

Public Assistance Program Beneficiaries

  • Federal anti-poverty programs primarily help the GOP’s base, By Ronald Brownstein, February 16, 2017, The Atlantic: “Even as congressional Republicans mobilize for a new drive to retrench federal anti-poverty efforts, whites without a college degree—the cornerstone of the modern GOP electoral coalition—have emerged as principal beneficiaries of those programs, according to a study released Thursday morning…”
  • The biggest beneficiaries of the government safety net: Working-class whites, By Tracy Jan, February 16, 2017, Washington Post: “Working-class whites are the biggest beneficiaries of federal poverty-reduction programs, even though blacks and Hispanics have substantially higher rates of poverty, according to a new study to be released Thursday by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities…”