Federal Judge Stops Trump Administration From Cutting Food Stamps for 700,000 Americans

Oct 22, 2020 09:33 PM EDT | By Kristine M. (staff@foodworldnews.com)

The Trump administration's attempt to end food stamp benefits for nearly 700,000 unemployed people was formally struck down by a federal judge. 

Amid a worldwide pandemic, Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell of D.C. shuts down the new Trump administration proposals, as stated in her 67-page opinion.

She mentioned that the department responsible for the food stamp program had been silent about the number of people affected by reducing food stamp benefits, according to Business Insider

Howell further stated that this reform would alter decades of regulatory practice radically and abruptly. As a result, it will leave the States scrambling and exponentially increasing food insecurity for tens of thousands of Americans. 

She said that the administration clearly failed to consider how the rule would impact thousands of Americans, especially during the pandemic.

In December 2019, NBC News reports that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) formalized new proposals that would limit a state's ability to grant waivers to qualify for food stamps in areas with high unemployment. 

As a result, this will cause hundreds of thousands of people to lose access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP.

As he explains the changes to the said rule, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue stated: "We're taking action to reform our SNAP program to restore the dignity of work to a sizable segment of our population and be respectful of the taxpayers who fund the program." 

He described Americans as generous people who believe that it is their responsibility to help their fellow citizens who encounter difficulty. It resonates with the commitment behind SNAP. However, it was never intended to be a way of life.

The said reform came in with three proposals. First will impact and will cut adults without children from the program by raising work requirements.

The second rule would eliminate what is known as "categorical eligibility." This allows people to enroll in food stamps automatically if they qualify for other aid programs. 

Finally, the third proposed rule states reducing the amount of home heating costs used to calculate a recipient's net income, making their income seem higher.

Meanwhile, many hunger advocates have repeatedly emphasized that SNAP is intended to address hunger and not compel people to work. 

As the New York Times revealed, around 1.5 million individuals in New York City alone cannot afford food. Furthermore, there is also a significant increase in the number of individuals becoming reliant on food pantries ever since the pandemic started.

Other studies also state that an estimated eight million Americans slipped into poverty since May of this year.

A careful analysis of the combination of these three new proposed rules translates to an estimated 3.7 million fewer people receiving aid from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. 

It also means a drop in the average monthly benefits for an estimated 2.2 million households. Finally, there will also be around 900,000 students who would lose access to free or reduced lunches. 

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