Proposals would create new barriers prohibiting NM families from accessing food assistance
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, and U.S. Representatives Ben Ray Luján and Michelle Lujan Grisham urged the president not to alter to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in ways that would prohibit New Mexicans in need from accessing food assistance. New Mexico has the third-highest proportion of SNAP recipients per capita – nearly one quarter of the state’s residents rely on food assistance. According to the lawmakers, the Trump administration’s proposals to impose new eligibility requirements for SNAP could create barriers that would prevent children, seniors, people with disabilities and families experiencing hardship from qualifying for the help they need to put food on the table.
In a letter to President Trump, the lawmakers wrote, “The availability of SNAP to [New Mexicans in need] should not be reduced by unnecessary barriers to entry. Establishing burdensome participation requirements such as those outlined in several pieces of proposed legislation and your proposed FY 18 budget would jeopardize SNAP participants living in parts of our country with higher unemployment rates, such as our state of New Mexico.”
Half of SNAP recipients are enrolled in the program for 10 months or less, often during transitional periods when families are facing temporary hardship, such as temporary unemployment. These families would no longer qualify if the administration imposes the proposed work eligibility requirement.
“SNAP is our nation’s first line of defense against hunger. SNAP is a safety net program in the truest sense of the word; there is no other more fundamental human need than food. SNAP provides essential nutrition benefits to working families, children, senior citizens, and disabled individuals in every state and town in our country,” the lawmakers wrote.
The 2017 New Mexico Kids Count Data Book ranked New Mexico the second-worst state in the nation for child well-being, in part because 29 percent of children live in poverty. Newly released research shows that SNAP is the primary source of nutrition assistance for many low-income people, and has resulted in improved nutritional outcomes and lower health care costs. While SNAP provides just $1.40 per person per meal on average, it helps supplement food costs for low-income families, making them more likely to spend money on healthier food, health-promoting activities, and medical care.