WASHINGTON, DC – The Root Cause Coalition opposes the current House version of the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, popularly known as the “Farm Bill.”
The bill contains several provisions that, taken together, would eliminate a nutritional lifeline for millions of Americans who would be removed from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The legislation would expand a controversial work requirement to cover all able-bodied SNAP enrollees between ages 18 and 59, including parents of school-aged children, without implementing adequate safeguards for this vulnerable population. It would also penalize enrollees who violate the work requirement or fail to meet the burdensome reporting requirements by making them ineligible for SNAP benefits for a period of 12 to 36 months. The proposed law would, in effect, remove as many as 2 million people from this vital safety-net program.
The Root Cause Coalition opposes these changes to SNAP as currently written. The Coalition urges members to consider the positive effects of SNAP on the overall health of families – particularly children – as well as the health care savings that SNAP enrollment has been shown to achieve. The ill effects of food insecurity are well documented. The inability to maintain a normal food-intake pattern is associated with increased rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and heart disease. In addition to these health effects, food insecurity impairs the performance of children in school and increases the likelihood of long-term behavioral and psychological problems. Even the modest SNAP benefit (an average of $1.40 per person per meal) substantially diminishes the harm food insecurity inflicts on low-income Americans.
“One of our Coalition’s core objectives is ensuring continued access to federal safety-net programs that serve as a lifeline for the most vulnerable Americans,” said Barbara Petee, Executive Director of the Root Cause Coalition. “Before advancing any bill that seeks to sever this lifeline – even provisionally, even for one person – we must ensure that the benefits outweigh the costs. As currently written, this bill does not meet that basic standard. We urge Congress to reconsider their approach.”
The Root Cause Coalition counts among its members local and national food banks that work directly with SNAP recipients, as well as numerous major health care providers and payers. The Coalition’s position on the proposed Farm Bill represents a confluence of expert opinion that cuts across sectors, states and services.
Read the full text of the proposed bill.
About the Root Cause Coalition
Established in 2015, the Root Cause Coalition is a non-profit, member-driven organization comprised of more than 50 leading health systems, hospital associations, foundations, businesses, national and community nonprofits, health insurers, academic institutions and policy centers. The Coalition works to achieve health equity through cross-sector collaboration in advocacy, education and research. For more information, visit www.rootcausecoalition.org and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.