Opinion: Make your voice heard; oppose changes to SNAP benefits

By Robert H. Lurcott
Former Taos resident, member of Santa Fe RESULTS
Posted 5/23/19

Trump is at it again. Like he has done with his "national emergency" declaration for the border wall, he is attempting to use executive authority to ignore the expressed intent of Congress, and …

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Opinion: Make your voice heard; oppose changes to SNAP benefits

Posted

Trump is at it again. Like he has done with his "national emergency" declaration for the border wall, he is attempting to use executive authority to ignore the expressed intent of Congress, and weaken the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which provides food to needy families. This effective and essential program is used by over 400,000 (1 in 5) New Mexicans - mostly in families with children, elderly and disabled members. The rate of participation in this program is likely higher in Taos County.

Unlike the border wall move, done with much publicity, the move against SNAP is being done below the radar. New regulations are being proposed to increase the work requirements beyond those already existing in the program. These new rules would: shorten the time an unemployed person could receive the program benefits (so, short-term unemployment between seasonal jobs could knock them out of the program); lengthen the time someone dropped from the program due to unemployment could reapply when employed; and eliminate the state's ability to waive the unemployment provisions in areas of the state with high unemployment, an important factor in New Mexico.

It should be pointed out that these provisions were included in the Republican-controlled House version of the Farm Bill passed late last year. The Senate version did not include them. Nor did the compromise bill passed by both Republican-controlled houses, and signed by Trump, in late December last year. So, these proposed rules go against the recently expressed intent of Congress in funding legislation. They will also do great harm to thousands of New Mexico families.

Because these are proposed administrative regulations, to make your voice heard on this matter it is necessary to send a communication stating your views to the Department of Agriculture, which administers the program. They make it hard. But, a hunger advocacy group (FRAC - Food Resource and Action Center) has made this a little easier by setting up an online site which you can use to ensure that your comment will get to the department.

The website address is: frac.org/timelimitcomments.

The deadline for official comment is over, but this website will help you to make an informal comment. Using it this way may prepare you to comment should the administration try to make rule changes again, and provides helpful information on this and related hunger issues.

Robert H. Lurcott, is a former Taos resident and property owner. He is a member of Santa Fe RESULTS, an anti-poverty advocacy group.

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