Both Sides Now: Anti-Hunger Programs

Finding common ground means listening carefully to different perspectives.  

Anti-hunger programs: Proposed cuts to federal food assistance programs.

Congress has been debating whether and how to cut federal programs that provide food benefits. The House of Representatives proposes to cut $8 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides food-purchasing assistance (often called food stamps) for low and no-income people living in the U.S.

The House proposal would restrict who is eligible to receive SNAP aid. It would require many beneficiaries to work 20 hours per week, extend the duration of these work requirements from age 45 until age 65, and require recipients to enroll in job training programs. (Sources: NPR and Politico). The Senate rejected the bill. Both houses of Congress must agree before any new legislation can pass.

Supporters of the House bill argue that:

  • “Long-term dependency has never been part of the American dream. [Our] goal is to move individuals and families from SNAP back to the workforce as the best long-term solution to poverty.” (Source: Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, NBC News)
  • “Not one person would be forced off SNAP due to the work or training requirements.” (Source: Congressman Mike Conaway, Politico)
  • Anti-hunger programs “are not making a sizable impact on hunger in America.” (Source: FreedomWorks).

Opponents of the House bill argue that:

  • “Essentially forcing individuals off SNAP to pay for an unproven, underfunded workforce training program is troubling. And, the 10 pilot programs designed to give us best practices haven’t even been completed or evaluated.” (Source: Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester, American Agriculturist)
  • “[W]e can invest in these children now through SNAP… or we’ll be paying later in terms of higher healthcare costs, poor educational outcomes, and a less competitive workforce—it’s pay now or pay later.” (Source: Lisa Davis, senior director of the No Kid Hungry Campaign, Quartz)
  • A study of SNAP assistance, conducted by the Obama Administration’s Council of Economic Advisers in 2015, concluded that it reduced “food insecurity” rates by up to 30 percent, and that it led to long-term improvements in health, academic achievement, and economic self-sufficiency. (Source: Quartz).

For more information on anti-poverty programs, including SNAP, see pages 30-35 of the e-book, Common Ground:  An Alternative to Partisan Politics.