Food bank says proposed SNAP changes would make program more expensive

Written by Rachel McDevitt | Feb 14, 2018 6:38 AM

(Harrisburg) -- The Trump Administration is proposing major changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in its federal budget plan.

But a midstate food bank says the proposals would likely make the program previously known as food stamps more expensive and less efficient.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue visited the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank just a few weeks ago to discuss the Farm Bill, which includes funding for SNAP. 

Executive Director Joe Arthur says he wasn't expecting an immediate impact from that conversation, but the recent proposal of a 20 percent cut in benefits is disappointing. 

"We shared with Secretary Perdue that even a ten percent cut--which was threatened in the last Farm Bill in 2014--would cause demand to almost double for our food bank," Arthur said.

The food bank distributed more than 48 million pounds of food to more than 450,000 people last year.

In addition to a cut, the Trump Administration is proposing government-supplied deliveries of shelf-stable food to SNAP recipients. 

Arthur says the idea probably wouldn't save the estimated 30 percent over the next decade. 

"We already do that type of work on a much smaller scale," Arthur said, "But I will tell you that, in addition to the food that's provided, there would have to be a lot of additional funding to allow organizations like us to actually get that type of food to people in need."

Arthur says the program could also have a negative economic impact for midstate grocery stores and farms. 

SNAP recipients in the commonwealth spent more $2.7 billion in benefits in the 2017 fiscal year. 

Congress is still debating the Farm Bill. It's unlikely the Trump Administration's budget proposal would get passed in its entirety. 

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