Chair: Betsy Crites, bcrites(at)sonic.net 919.381.5969
“By providing monthly benefits to eligible low-income people to purchase food, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formally Food Stamps) plays a critical role in reducing hunger, malnutrition, and poverty, and improving family security, child and adult health, employment, and other outcomes.” Food Research and Action Center (FRAC)
End Hunger Durham’s view is that SNAP is the best tool hunger fighters have. We advocate for robust funding of SNAP and oppose attempts to write eligibility requirements into the rules that will disqualify people in need.
Closing the Meal Gap Act of 2019
SNAP is by far the best way to help the most people reach food independence. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides extra money for food every month to those who are struggling financially.
But there have been unnecessary restrictions on SNAP eligibility, and it has been underfunded. Congresswoman Alma Adams from the 12thDistrict of NC has stepped in with a proactive bill that addresses many of the program’s deficits.
The Closing the Meal Gap Act of 2019 (H.R. 1368) would:
- Permanently authorize the standard medical deduction in every state for seniors and disabled individuals applying for SNAP benefits at a minimum of $140. Individuals with high expenses could continue to apply for a higher, itemized medical deduction.
- Incorporate the Low-Cost Food Plan into the SNAP formulato take into account how much working people, including SNAP recipients, spend on food.
- Eliminate the cap on the Excess Shelter Deductionin the SNAP formula to take into account the cost of living for SNAP recipients in areas with high rent and utilities.
- Raise the minimum SNAP benefit from $16 to $25 per month.
- Allow Able-Bodied Adults to be exempt from SNAP work requirementsif their state cannot provide them with a slot in a SNAP Employment and Training Program (SNAP E&T).
- Eliminate the work requirements for college studentsand allow full and part-time students to dedicate themselves to their studies.
The rising cost of food in America outpaces SNAP benefits each year, forcing families to choose between placing food on the table and covering other important expenses. SNAP benefits provide a mere $1.40 per meal. That’s partially because benefit levels are based on the Thrifty Food Plan, a restrictive model used to calculate food costs that does not meet the needs of today’s low wage workers and their families. The latest USDA Household Food Security report showed that the typical U.S. household spent 22 percent more on food than Thrifty Food Plan estimates.
SNAP recipients can deduct medical expenses when the monthly out-of-pocket expenses exceed $35/month. However, most states, including N.C., require seniors to document every single out-of-pocket medical expense to justify the deduction. As a result, this deduction is largely underutilized by seniors and disabled Americans. This is why a standard medical deduction for these groups would be so helpful.
The Closing the Meal Gap Act would raise the baseline benefit for all SNAP households and allocate more funds to those with large medical and housing expenses.
How to support this bill:
Start by thanking your representative by leaving a message on their website. (See contact information on this page.)
Then reach out to Chairwoman of the Nutrition Sub-committee, Marcia Fudge (D-OH, (202) 225-7032), and Agriculture Committee Chairman, Collin Peterson (D-MN, (202) 225-2165), and encourage them to consider the bill in Committee.
Finally, you can get your organization to endorse the bill by writing to Rep. Adams’ Legislative Aide, Katherine Stewart at Katherine.Stewart@mail.house.gov
Keep these numbers handy to act quickly on legislative alerts.
Sen. Richard Burr: (202) 224-3154
Sen. Thom Tillis: (202) 224-6342
Rep. GK Butterfield: (202) 225-3101 or (919) 908-0164
Rep. David Price: (202) 225-1784
Other Food Advocacy Efforts by EHD:
Local Food Security Office and Coordinator
There is a need for a unifying plan and strategy that helps the many efforts to improve food security pull in the same direction without duplication. Along with this we need a centralized staffed office to work with the community in implementing the plan.
End Hunger Durham is part of the Collaborative Council initiated by Durham’s Mayor and Duke’s World Food Policy Center to address these needs in the context of the wider food system.
Latest Update: March 2019: A Design Committee and a Collaborative Council were formed in the Fall of 2018. A 2-session workshop on racial equity was held for members in January 2019. Currently committees are meeting to consider a variety of social and economic issues relevant to the overall food system.
The Elderly Simplified Application Project (ESAP)
ESAP is a demonstration project that seeks to increase participation among the elderly low-income population by streamlining the application and certification process. The federal government allows for a waiver of some procedures for enrolling and recertifying SNAP participants 60 and older.
End Hunger Durham has teamed up with other organizations to get North Carolina to request this waiver and join 8 other states with a demonstration project.
Latest Update March 2019: EHD is awaiting response from the NC DHHS as to when they will submit the waiver. We have been told it is a priority.
In May, 2018, EHD and DFFN issued a policy alert regarding the 2018 Farm Bill being voted on in Congress.
Call Your Rep!: On Tuesday, May 8th, we all need to call our members of Congress and tell them to “Vote NO on H.R. 2, the Farm Bill!” Please make use of Feeding America’s toll free number: 1-888-398-8702. You will be connected to your Representative’s office by putting in your zip code.
It is imperative that we let Congress know that we want them to “Vote NO on H.R. 2” because its rigid work rules will reduce or eliminate SNAP for millions. It will deny food to children, veterans, women, and people needing treatment and/or with disabilities. Please share this number with your networks and ask them to encourage people to call. The number is live now and people can start calling now but please make sure you call on Tuesday, May 8th!
Outcome: A final version of the bill passed both Houses in December 2018.
In November of 2017, End Hunger Durham issued a policy alert regarding the proposed tax reform, primarily in the Senate.
In October of 2017, End Hunger Durham issued policy alerts on the proposed changes to the Affordable Care Act which would affect Medicaid.
PLEASE CALL SENATORS RICHARD BURR AND THOM TILLIS TO OPPOSE HEALTHCARE REPEAL
The Senate leadership and Trump Administration are pulling out all the stops now to get at least 50 Republicans to vote for the Graham-Cassidy bill to dramatically cut and later repeal most of the Affordable Care Act.
This will mean the demise of Medicaid.
- eliminate the ACA’s Medicaid expansion and ACA’s marketplace subsidies in 2020 and replace them with an inadequate block grant.
- cap and cut federal Medicaid per-beneficiary funding for tens of millions of seniors, people with disabilities, and families with children starting in 2020.
- remove protections for people with pre-existing conditions
- deny healthcare coverage to tens of millions of people around the country
Cuts to NC would come to $8.7 billion over 10 years.
Call Sen. Richard Burr at (202) 224.3154
Call Sen. Thom Tillis at (202) 224.6342
Call Rep. GK Butterfield at (202) 225-3101 or
Call Rep. David Price at (202) 225-1784
The bill failed.
In 2016, End Hunger Durham opposed the
“Improving Child Nutrition Assistance” bill (HR 5003).
The Food and Action Resource Center explains the problems:
The U.S. House Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) bill, H.R. 5003, includes a dangerous three-state block grant proposal for the school meal programs. This block grant would end the federal government’s ability to increase funding in areas of need, enforce child nutrition standards in school meals, and ensure students in need receive enough nutritious food year-round. Many other provisions of H.R. 5003 are also of serious concern, including a more difficult application process, harmful changes in community eligibility, and weakened school nutrition standards.
Since Fall 2015, EHD has also worked on the following issues:
Support for full funding of the Child Nutrition bill pending in Congress
Request: fully fund without taking money from other nutrition programs
Outcome: still in process.
Support for the corner store funding at the NC Legislature.
Request: fund small retail stores to stock fresh food, $1 million
Outcome: $250,000 was included in the 2016 budget.
Request to Gov. McCrory to veto HB 318 passed by the Legislature
Request: Veto because of provision to cut SNAP benefits to adults age 18-55, not disabled and without children
Outcome: Gov. signed the bill. Extension of SNAP benefits to this group was permanently limited to 3 months and the option of extensions during an economic downturn was permanently prohibited.
Support for the America Gives More Act
Request: The bill (HR644) extends three charitable giving incentives, including the food donation tax deduction. Most importantly, it expands the food donation tax deduction to small businesses, ranchers, and farmers and makes the deduction permanent.
Outcome: Passed by the U.S. Congress as part of the budget bill of December 2015.