5 Things You Should Know about the Proposed Cuts to SNAP
The United States Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – or SNAP – provides more than 46 million Americans with the means to purchase food every month. In Illinois, 16 percent of residents rely on SNAP for their monthly groceries, and 25 percent of Chicagoans participate in the program.
You’ve likely heard there are proposed cuts to the SNAP program both in Illinois and at the federal level. What does this mean for our neighbors in Lakeview? Here are some things you should know:
1) Currently anyone in Illinois who meets federal income guidelines is eligible for SNAP. While the federal government does have guidelines requiring able-bodied adults to work or enroll in job training, for the past 20 years Illinois has received a waiver for these requirements. Illinois does not plan to renew this waiver in 2016 – which means adults who do not have a disability must work or enroll in job training to receive SNAP.
2) More than 100,000 Chicagoans will likely lose their SNAP benefits. While requiring SNAP recipients to find work may seem like a positive step, finding a job that would make one SNAP eligible is a difficult task for those who most need food assistance – like low-skilled workers or those experiencing homelessness or mental illness.
3) There is only one office in Chicago that can approve someone for Food Stamp Employment and Training. That office is on the south side of Chicago – a long haul for our neighbors in Lakeview, particularly those with a limited income who rely on public transportation. An additional 20 percent cut to all state departments in next year’s budget also means that office is likely to be understaffed and overburdened.
4) Congress also wants to overhaul how states receive SNAP funding. Rather than providing benefits for everyone who is eligible, Congress has proposed a bill that would distribute SNAP funding via block grants. This means each state would have a set amount of funding available for the SNAP program, potentially reducing benefits across the board and/or creating wait lists for eligible recipients.
5) Reduced access to SNAP = increased reliance on food pantries. Many of Lakeview Pantry’s clients come to us because they have a need for food beyond what they already receive from SNAP. A reduction in SNAP benefits will mean clients will rely on emergency food assistance even more. We may also see an influx of new clients who were previously getting by on their SNAP benefits without our help.
What can you do? If these cuts happen, we will need the help of our neighbors more than ever. Increased client need would require more food, more funding and more help to ensure healthy, filling meals get into our neighbors’ hands.
If you’d like to contribute to fighting hunger in Lakeview, visit our donate page.