National Consumers League

NCL opposes harmful proposed rule that will expose more to hunger

September 23, 2019

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—Today, the National Consumers League (NCL) submitted written comments opposing the USDA’s Proposed Rule: Revision of Categorical Eligibility in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), arguing that the proposed policy change would impact millions who qualify for the federal program that is the nation’s first line of defense against hunger.

“Our organization is deeply concerned that the proposed changes would deprive an estimated 3.1 million people of access to this vital program and cause 500,000 children to lose their automatic eligibility for free or subsidized school lunch. This proposed rule may potentially worsen hunger among low-income households, harm local economies, and increase SNAP administrative costs,” wrote NCL in the comments.

Low-income households receiving cash assistance from Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or General Assistance have long been considered automatically (or “categorically) eligible for SNAP, which means they do not separately have to pass SNAP’s asset or gross income tests.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the proposed rule change is intended to close a “loophole” that states have misused to “effectively bypass important eligibility guidelines.” However, that’s simply not the case. Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility (BBCE) allows states to cover the gap between income and need by considering cost of living, wages, and other local economic conditions when determining people's eligibility for SNAP.

The National Consumers League strongly opposes the proposed rule that would expose even more people to the arbitrary food cutoff policy.

NCL’s written comments are available here (PDF).

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About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.