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Rep. Schrader Joins Oregon Delegation to Reverse Cuts to Food Assistance

For Immediate Release

July 31, 2019

Larkin Parker: 202 225 5711


 Schrader Joins Merkley, DeFazio In Push to Reverse Cuts to Food Assistance

The Trump administration’s proposal would leave 3 million Americans—including 66,000 Oregonians—hungry

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley and U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio, along with Senator Ron Wyden and Representatives Suzanne Bonamici, Earl Blumenauer and Kurt Schrader, today pushed the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to immediately withdraw the harmful proposed rule that would take food assistance away from 3 million Americans—including 66,000 Oregonians.

Merkley is the top Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees the USDA, which runs the SNAP program nationwide.

The agency’s proposed rule would change the way supplemental food benefits are determined, reducing the number of people who are eligible. Although USDA has stated that SNAP has maintained some of the highest program integrity standards and most meticulous quality control systems of any federal program, the political leadership at USDA now claims that its new, more restrictive rule “makes things fair” and is needed to improve compliance and eligibility consistency.

“We are especially concerned about the number of Oregon children—many of whom receive their only meal of the day at school—who will lose access to free school meals if they are not automatically certified for school meals because of their SNAP participation,” the delegation wrote. “While the vast majority of these children may qualify for reduced price meals, they will have to reapply for the program and bring lunch money in order to continue to eat at school. Because schools are reimbursed at a lower rate for children who participate in reduced-price meals, this change will also mean less money for schools.”                   

The lawmakers noted the burden on the state and the negative economic impact of the proposed rule: “In Oregon, this proposed rule would also be a significant burden on the Department of Human Services (DHS), which administers Oregon’s SNAP program. DHS has been using Categorical Eligibility for 15 years and would need to update its technical capabilities and retrain the hardworking staff who help ensure Oregonians receive their benefits. We also know that every $1 spent in SNAP benefits generates approximately $1.79 in economic activity.”

One in seven Oregonians are food insecure, which means they don’t have access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious foods. Most SNAP recipients in Oregon are children—nearly one-third of households—and seniors. 

“This proposed change would take food away from families in Oregon, make it harder for kids to get school meals, and add red tape and inefficiency to a program that is working well,” said Annie Kirschner, Executive Director, Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon. “Every county in Oregon would be hurt by this. The administration needs to listen to Oregonians who care.”

“It’s the fundamental duty of the federal government to protect the well-being of all Americans,” said Susannah Morgan, CEO Oregon Food Bank. “I’m deeply disappointed that the USDA would propose a rule change that would take away SNAP benefits from more than 3 million Americans, including 260,000 children who would also face losing free school meals as a result. Families likely impacted are usually working, sometimes more than one job, saving a little, and facing high living costs.”

“This proposed rule is unnecessarily cruel, ignores Congressional intent, takes food away from families, prevents children from getting school meals, and makes it harder for states to administer food assistance,” the delegation wrote. “We urge you to immediately withdraw this harmful proposed rule.”

Find the delegation’s letter here and below.