The Trump administration is prepared to boot millions from a food assistance program as people are struggling financially and not knowing where their next meal will come from.
This would have a drastic effect on the Bronx, which has one of the poorest congressional districts in the country, with 26 percent of its residents experience food insecurity.
However, Attorney General Letitia James said this could not and should not happen. On April 21, the AG led a coalition of 22 attorney generals and the New York City demanding that the Trump administration immediately suspend its efforts to stop food assistance for 3.1 million people. In a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the coalition urged the agency not to finalize a proposed rule that would disqualify millions of low-income Americans from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
The officials stressed in the letter it should not be harder to access food during the pandemic, especially when people are out of work or sick. These cuts would hurt even more due to the fact that approximately 95 percent of Americans are under stay-at-home orders, millions of people are out of work and there are fully signed Presidential Disaster Declarations in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
“With tens of millions of individuals out of work and with the nation in the middle of a public health crisis, now is not the time to let 3.1 million people go hungry,” James said. “Families and states are already seeking to make ends meet because of the global pandemic, and this rule would push them into an even more precarious position. It is unconscionable to move forward with trying to implement this policy, and we demand that the Trump administration immediately suspend the rulemaking process. We must all be working together to get through this.”
The Trump administration’s proposed rule “Revision of Categorical Eligibility in the SNAP,” would limit needy families’ access to SNAP, the country’s most important anti-hunger program, which is often referred to as food stamps. SNAP provides low-income people the opportunity to buy nutritious food that they otherwise could not afford.
SNAP is a lifeline that could prevent families from going hungry at a time when more than 20 million residents across the nation, including more than 1.2 million New York residents, have lost jobs and filed for unemployment in the five-week period ending April 11.
“It is vital to our national response to this crisis that people who are supposed to stay home be able to have food on the table at home,” the letter states. “Those who are working from home, or are staying home and unable to look for work, or are staying home from school or daycare, still need to eat. That is what SNAP provides: it supplements the food budgets of needy families to enable them to buy groceries.”