United Ways of California improves the health, education and financial stability of low-income workersand families by enhancing and coordinating the advocacy and community impact work of 31 member United Ways throughout California.
Earlier this year we wrote to the Certification Policy Branch of the SNAP Program Development Division of the Food and Nutrition Service office in the U.S. Department of Agriculture opposing the White House’s proposed changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Click here to read our correspondence.
Today we underscore our opposition. The new requirements hurt food insecure families.
37% of all California households struggle to stay afloat. And 9 out of 10 of these households have at least one working adult in them. 30% of California residents spend more than a third of their income on rent, and some spend up to 76%, which means that after paying rent, many low-income working families have little to meet all their other needs, such as transportation, medical necessities, child care, and food. Without CalFresh food assistance, hundreds of thousands of low-income working families would go hungry.
A sad fact of American life is that 40% of households, including middle class earners, would have trouble meeting an unexpected expense of only $400. California and the United States should be doing more to help working families build savings and assets, to move toward financial security.
The new SNAP requirements take us in exactly the wrong direction. They eliminate benefits for all individuals (including seniors and persons with disabilities) if their assets exceed $3,500. Small savings accounts and other modest assets are all that stand between many households and homelessness. Depriving these families of SNAP food assistance not only guarantees more families will go hungry, it pushes them those lucky enough to have some modest savings to drain them down to zero, putting them at greater risk of catastrophe.
Even Californians who continue to receive CalFresh under the new SNAP requirements are likely to see lower benefits as the program is nearly fully federally funded. Those working to support children will be hit hardest. Especially those working to support young children—60% of all households in California with children under 5 have a hard time meeting their basic needs. And food insecure children experience developmental, educational, health, and other challenges with both short and long term repercussions.