SNAP Program preparing for severely REDUCED budget cuts.
Are we prepared?
Snap Risk Assessment
SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as “food stamps,” the largest and most effective federal food assistance program that maintains nutritional health for individuals and families during periods of lower income and disaster emergencies, such as what Texas and Florida are experiencing with hurricane damage.
SNAP also benefits participating grocery stores where SNAP participants buy food amounting to millions of dollars a year per county. Reducing SNAP means reducing revenue for those stores and sales tax revenue for government. In 2013, Yavapai County grocery stores received $43 million in SNAP revenue.
Risk in Congress
In June, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan stated that he had a plan and the votes to implement a 25% cut off the top of the SNAP budget, and then add further cuts by converting SNAP into a block grant program to states. The Hunger Relief staff at DES estimates that the total impact of these steps could result in more than 40% of SNAP participants being dropped from the program as soon as October 2018.
Feeding America reports: “In July, the House Budget Committee passed a budget resolution that calls for $4.4 trillion in cuts to mandatory spending over the next decade, including at least $203 billion in domestic spending cuts in that resolution using a fast-track process called reconciliation. The resolution instructs the Agriculture Committee to cut at least $10 billion over ten years. Reports say the cuts will likely be directed to SNAP with an additional $150 million in cuts for downsizing and restructuring the program. These actions will greatly harm the people we serve.”
The House floor vote on the budget resolution will likely happen in September.
These planned budget cuts to SNAP will harm current SNAP participants by plunging them into greater financial insecurity. Where will they find the food they need? They must rely on local emergency food providers – food bank and pantries, hot meals programs, senior centers, youth centers, childcare centers, and schools. Do these local food assistance programs have the capacity to serve cut-off SNAP participants? In most communities, the answer is NO.
Churches operate most emergency food providers with elder volunteers. They lack physical space for food storage, refrigerated storage, and adequate transportation.
To assess the risk of increasing food-insecurity in each county, we project the numbers of SNAP participants at risk of being cut from the program. The table below uses Census 2016 population and the DES SNAP participant count for January 2017.
Estimate of SNAP Participants at Risk in 2018
|86335 & 42||Beaver Creek||5,594||601||270||210||150|
|85324||Black Canyon City||2,876||377||170||132||94|
|86332||Congress – Peeples Valley||2,037||352||158||123||88|
|86333||Cordes – Mayer||5,713||1,013||456||355||253|
|86327 & 29||Dewey-Humboldt||3,952||958||431||335||240|
|Prepared by Harvey Grady, Cornucopia Community Advocates, September 2017.|
Each community in Yavapai County has SNAP participants at risk of being cut from the program and having to rely on local food assistance programs. Clearly, local resources are not prepared to absorb such numbers in most communities.
In the county, the number of persons cut from SNAP ranges from 5,500 to 10,000. Where will those children, adults, and seniors find the food they need? The communities most affected are: Prescott Valley, Prescott, Cottonwood, Chino Valley, and Camp Verde.
Discussions with the Hunger Relief program of DES and the Association of Arizona Food Banks indicate that no additional federal and charitable funds will likely be available to increase the amount of hunger-relief food entering Arizona in 2018.
Our county faces being inundated with cut-off SNAP participants as soon as October 2018. If a county lacks funds to boost the budgets of local food assistance programs, unprecedented numbers of food-insecure individuals and families with children will be exposed to hunger in each community because local food assistance programs do not have the capacity to serve them.
Preventive Action Steps
Yavapai County and municipal officials might explore strategies for supporting existing local food assistance programs through this impending crisis.
Such strategies might include:
- A quick survey of those programs to identify existing program capacities and engage those programs in planning how to increase their service capacities within a reasonable timeframe.
- Grantwriting assistance to tap existing funders for purchase of walk-in coolers, additional storage space, laptop computers, etc., for capacity expansion of existing local programs.
- Recruitment of volunteers for food waste recovery to add healthy local food to local food assistance program inventories.
- Community organization methods to increase community engagement and support for existing local programs, resulting in more donations, volunteers, and shared facilities.
- Utilization of existing effective food donation programs, such as the Food Neighbors (Green Bag) program of the Yavapai Food Council, to increase the number of food donors.
- In higher impact communities with a viable base of support, new food assistance programs can be started with adequate planning for sustainability.
- Enhancing county and community programs that promote vocational training and job placement to increase opportunities for achieving higher household income.
We welcome questions and/or comments, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your interest and support in fighting hunger.
Harvey Grady, President/CEO, Cornucopia Community Advocates
Vice Chair, Hunger Advisory Council of AZDES
95 Spotted Fawn Ct., Sedona, AZ 86351-7288