Trump's Latest Hard-Line Proposal to Deny Americans Food Assistance Will Harm Older Americans
For the third time this year alone, the Trump Administration issued a proposed rule to cut Americans off from vital food assistance by circumventing Congress to change the rules for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, known in California as CalFresh). We are asking for your help again to oppose yet another harmful policy proposal.
The newly proposed rule, which was published by the United States Department of Agriculture in early October, would reduce SNAP benefits for many program 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 low-income household’s gross income to better reflect their true cost of living and food assistance needs. The Trump Administration is proposing to eliminate states flexibility in determining how those utility expenses are deducted by imposing a uniform national allowance that is lower than the actual utility costs paid by many Californians. According to the Administration’s impact analysis for the rule, the change will reduce SNAP benefits for 25 percent of participating Californians. As with previously proposed rules, the Administration's estimates likely do not take into account the full range of harm caused by the proposed policy. Better and more recent data is needed to accurately estimate the rule’s impact on California, including the disproportionate harm it will inflict on our aging population and people with disabilities.
According to the Administration’s impact analysis for the rule, if the policy is enacted it will “have the greatest impact on households that contain an elderly individual.” That is because SNAP has special rules for households with older adults that enables them to claim a higher deduction for housing costs, including utility expenses. For most households, there is a limit on the amount that can be deducted for housing expenses ($569), but for households with an elderly or disabled member, the full amount of housing costs over half of the household's income may be deducted. In California, the proposed rule change will result in a smaller deduction for utility expenses and a resulting disproportionate reduction in average monthly benefits for many older adults and disabled participants.
Reducing older adult’s SNAP benefits will only further their risk of hunger. For many older adults, SNAP plays an important role in helping them put food on the table. While it provides a modest benefit, just $125 a month on average for households with members age 60 or older, SNAP helps many older adults access the food they need while building room in their budgets to afford other basic needs, such as housing, transportation, and health care.
This new proposal is yet another attempt by the Trump administration to implement policies that hurt low-income Americans who are struggling to make ends meet. We should be working to tear down the systemic injustices that contribute to hunger among Californians, but instead the Trump Administration is building an invisible wall designed to cut out poor and working class families from fair access to health and prosperity.
Your Voice is Needed to Protect Access to Necessary Food Assistance
Submit public comments by December 2nd in opposition to the proposed rule:
There is a sixty day public comment period for the latest proposed rule. We hope you will reach out to your networks to generate comments against the rule by the December 2 deadline. We ask that you modify the language to reflect your own thoughts and experiences so that each submitted comment counts as a unique comment. You can submit your comments directly to the Federal Register or through the online comment portal set up by our partners at the Food Research and Action Center.
Sample California-specific public comments doc
Stay tuned for updates on how you can help protect access to food assistance:
CFPA will be sending out calls to action each week leading up to the comment due date of December 2nd. Each week will focus on a different population that would be harmed by the proposed rule. Make sure you don't miss any updates: sign up for our Action Alerts.link
Questions? Contact: Melissa Cannon at 209.200.8446