New CBP Report: Congress Should Maintain States’ Flexibility To Expand SNAP Food Assistance

A new CBP analysis examines deep cuts that Congress is considering making to the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps). Known as CalFresh in California, this program provides food assistance to nearly 4 million low-income individuals across the state, over three-fifths of them children. The need for food assistance has increased due to the Great Recession and its aftermath. Since mid-2007, when the economic downturn started in California, CalFresh enrollment has risen steadily and nearly doubled.

As part of the reauthorization of the federal Farm Bill, the US House of Representatives is considering slashing SNAP funding by more than $16 billion over the next 10 years, largely by eliminating the flexibility that states have to broaden SNAP eligibility to more low-income working families. This change would end SNAP food assistance for roughly 2 million to 3 million low-income individuals in 40 states, including California.

The cuts under consideration in the House would jeopardize improvements that California has made – or is considering making – to CalFresh. For instance: as we’ve blogged before, a bill now in the Legislature – AB 1560 – would bring more low-income individuals into CalFresh by both simplifying eligibility rules and creating a direct link between CalFresh and the Medi-Cal Program. The proposed House cuts to SNAP would prohibit this effort to expand access to CalFresh and would reduce nutrition assistance at the worst possible time: with many families still struggling in the wake of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

— Steven Bliss