Children’s Access to Food in Jeopardy Under Proposed Trump Rule Change


Earlier this month, the Trump Administration moved for a third time to cut spending on food assistance through proposed regulatory changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, known as CalFresh in California). The Administration concedes that their latest proposal would cut the power of SNAP for households with children, trimming their benefits by as much as $75 every month.

The newly proposed rule, which was published by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on October 3rd, would reduce SNAP benefits for participants who have high utility costs, such as heating and cooling expenses. Benefit levels for SNAP are based on income and other factors including, housing and utility costs, which can often be deducted from a household’s income to better reflect their true cost of living. The Trump Administration is proposing to implement a uniform national allowance for calculating utility expenses that is lower than the actual utility costs paid by many Californians. The proposed rule would fuel rates of hunger and food insecurity across the United States. In California, where over 1.9 million children under the age of eighteen live in households that participate in SNAP, the rule change would have a significant negative impact on children.

The Trump Administration estimates the rule change would reduce SNAP benefits for 20 percent of households with children. But national partners have estimated the harm to be far worse. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has estimated that of the more than 7 million people who will see their benefits cut because of the proposed rule, 68 percent are likely to come from households with children. As with previous proposed rules, the Administration's estimates do not take into account the full range of harm caused by the proposed policy. Their impact analysis is based on old 2014 data. Better and more recent data is needed to accurately estimate the rule’s impact, including the combined impact of the proposed rule with other pending rulemaking.

The newly proposed rule comes in the wake of two other proposals from the Trump Administration to rig the rules for SNAP. USDA announced the rule change just one week after the public comment period closed for the Administration’s proposal to cut 3.1 million people off of benefits through elimination of "broad-based categorical eligibility” (the comment period for the proposed rule closed in September, but was recently reopened and extended to November 1st). Earlier this year, the Administration also proposed cutting 755,000 people off from SNAP by imposing harsh time limits that would cut certain participants off from benefits if they can’t find and maintain employment at 20 hours per week (the comment period for this proposed rule closed in April and a final rule is expected anytime soon). Together, these three rules are estimated to negatively impact over a million Californians, more than a quarter of the SNAP recipients in our state.

Say “NO” to the proposed rule that would fuel hunger across California 

Submit a comment opposition to the rule by December 2nd:

We ask that you modify the language to reflect your own thoughts and experiences so that each submitted comment counts as unique.

  • Submit your comments here by December 2nd, 2019.

  • California-specific sample comments. doc

  • Child-specific sample comments.doc

  • Questions? Contact: Melissa Cannon at 209.200.8446