Farm Bill: Bipartisan improvements to food-stamp provisions but nutrition title still a ‘mixed bag’
Colorado avoided heavy cuts to the state’s food stamps program, federally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), in the Farm Bill. President Obama signed the bill today, after it passed out of the U.S. Senate with a 68-32 bipartisan vote and advanced from the House of Representatives with a strong vote of 251-166.
The House-version of the nutrition title, which passed last fall, proposed slashing food stamps by $40 billion. Its approval would have caused more than 55,000 Coloradans to fall off the program altogether, as well as resulted in deep losses among grocery retailers and those whose jobs depend on the food retail supply chain.
The nutrition title of the Farm Bill most notably includes $8.6 billion in cuts to food stamps over 10 years, primarily focused on “Heat and Eat,” an opt-in program utilized by 17 states to connect food stamp allotment with fuel assistance for heating and cooling. Colorado does not participate in “Heat and Eat.”
The average household utilizing food stamps now only receives about $1.40 per meal, per person, following the across-the-board benefit reduction in November 2013.
Why does the Farm Bill matter?
SNAP offers temporary support to those affected by the economic downturn, many who are seeking employment, getting by on meager wages, or having to choose between paying medical bills and food. Every dollar matters to a family or individual trying to make ends meet.
These cuts would be in addition to the SNAP benefit reduction that went into effect on Nov. 1, 2013. All households receiving SNAP benefits were impacted when a temporary provision of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which includes more than 500,000 Coloradans. The reduced monthly benefits to purchase groceries make it more challenging for families and individuals to access nutritious food.
SNAP makes dollars and sense for Colorado. In our state, SNAP has:
- Helped create 71,985 jobs between FY 2008 and FY 2012
- Generated an estimated $3.1 billion in federal funding for Colorado retailers, including grocery stores, convenience stores, farmers markets, wholesalers and other retail food stores in the past five years
Be an advocate for a hunger-free Colorado! Let your voice be heard Contact your legislators and ask them to protect SNAP.
To learn more about the nutrition programs in the Farm Bill as well as the economic benefits of SNAP, view these informational sheets and white papers: