The Trump administration has issued a proposed rule change that would cut food assistance to 3.1 million people—including 44,000 Mainers—and eliminate school meals for 500,000 children. Submit a public comment opposing the rule change by September 23 and tell your MoCs to protect vulnerable Mainers.
The Trump administration is once again proposing significant cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides food assistance to 40.3 million low-income people each month. Trump has tried to slash funding for SNAP in the federal budget every year since he took office, but Congress has rejected the cuts each time. In July, he released a proposed rule change that would allow him to do an end run around Congress to cut food assistance to 3.1 million people—including 44,000 Mainers—and to eliminate school meals for more than 500,000 children by ending automatic enrollment of children in SNAP families in free and reduced-cost school meal programs. That automatic sign up is part of broad-based category eligibility (BBCE), a policy that allows states to automatically enroll eligible applicants in SNAP if they qualify for other safety-net programs. BBCE also gives states flexibility to raise SNAP income eligibility limits and remove asset tests so they can provide food assistance to more low-income working families, seniors, and people with disabilities. Maine is one of 42 states and territories that currently utilizes BBCE to tailor SNAP to the state’s individual needs. Trump’s rule would end the BBCE policy.
Maine is 9th in the nation for food insecurity, with 1 in 5 children and 16% of seniors at risk of hunger. While food insecurity nationwide has been on the decline, hunger in Maine has been on the rise, which a 2017 study found is due in large part to policies enacted by former Gov. Paul LePage. Sixteen Democratic governors, including Maine’s Janet Mills, signed a letter to Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to oppose Trump’s proposed rule.
- Submit a public comment opposing the proposed rules change to SNAP. Individual comments can be powerful and the administration is required to read and respond to each unique comment submitted before the Sept. 23 deadline. If you or someone you know relies on SNAP or have benefitted from the program in the past, sharing your story can be very effective. The talking points below can get you started. Submit your comment via the Food Research and Action Center online form or directly on the Federal Register site.
- Call your members of Congress and tell them to protect food assistance for more than 44,000 Mainers through the budget process and publicly oppose Trump’s proposed rule. So far, Rep. Chellie Pingree (D) is the only federal elected from Maine who has come out against the rule. Find your MoCs’ contact information below or in our Civic Dashboard.
- Share a link to this action and the graphics below on your Facebook and Twitter feeds, with the hashtags #HandsOffSNAP and #ProtectSNAP.
- 44,000 Mainers—one-quarter of those who receive SNAP—would lose food assistance under the proposed rule change, including 11,031 children and 9,598 people who are over 60 or who have a disability. (Source: Maine DHHS)
- More than 61% of SNAP recipients in Maine are in families with children, nearly 49% are in families with members who are elderly or have disabilities, and more than 47% are in working families. (Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)
- Most of Maine’s SNAP recipients live in poverty. 51% earn between 51-100% of the federal poverty level and 16% earn ≤50% of the poverty level. (Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)
- Despite claims that SNAP fraud is widespread, a recent analysis found that only 1.5% of all redeemed SNAP benefits were sold for cash or exchanged illegally. (Source: Congressional Research Service)
- The average SNAP benefit is just $109 per month, per household member, in Maine. (Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)
- Nationwide, 1 in 9 households with 37.2 million people—including 11.2 million children—struggle to provide enough food for their family. (Source: USDA)
- SNAP actually boosts the economy. During a slowing economy, $1 billion in new SNAP benefits generates $1.54 billion in Gross Domestic Product. And $1 billion in new SNAP benefits would generate an additional $32 million in income for U.S. agriculture industries and support an additional 480 full-time agriculture jobs. Cutting SNAP would eliminate that growth. (Source: USDA Economic Research Service)
- Allowing states to determine the most appropriate income and asset levels through broad-based category eligibility helps low-income families avoid the “welfare cliff,” gives low-income families a chance to save for the future, and reduces overall SNAP administrative costs. (Source: Center of Budget and Policy Priorities.)