Trump Administration Cutting SNAP: What Does This Mean for Our Food System?

by ~

The Trump Administration proposed three new changes to the federal SNAP food stamp program that threaten to kick millions of needy families off the assistance they need to feed their children, but the move could also send a ripple effect through the entire food supply.

Grocery stores depend on the revenue from food stamp recipients. Less money spent at the market equates to decreased profits for farmers already beleaguered by the Trump tariffs. With all the people adversely impacted, it makes you wonder what goal the administration strives to achieve. 

The SNAP changes proposed are:

1. Tighten work requirements for program eligibility on non-disabled adults with no children

2. Cap deductions for utility allowances

3. “Reform” a method used by 40 states to automatically allow families eligible for other federal aid to enroll in SNAP, which will remote over 3 million people from the program

The Trump Administration Measures

One of the three measures places new work requirements on non-disabled adults with no children. The move could push nearly 700,000 people from the program while saving $5.5 billion over five years. To qualify, individuals would need to work or attend training for at least 20 hours per week.

On paper, this measure seems reasonable, but it ignores the economic reality of poverty. Many of the people who fall into this category do work. However, their jobs don’t offer regular hours. It isn’t that these individuals are unwilling to work. Instead, the realities of part-time, seasonal and gig labor keep them from earning enough to put a decent meal on the table.

The measure proves particularly difficult for people with disabilities. While many in the community can and do work, they can only do so up to their ability, which may not meet the 20-hour requirement. Others have impairments unrecognized by the federal disability program. The children and elderly, who often depend on working-age adults in their life for sustenance, will also suffer.

The first additional proposal would eliminate automatic food stamp eligibility when people qualify for other social programs. The second would reduce the price of home heating costs people could deduct from their income to qualify. This proposal would adversely impact people in cold northern states the most.

The Problem of Food Insecurity in America

America has a massive problem with food insecurity, due in particular to the higher cost of locally grown or organic food by compared to more processed foods. While the majority of people will pay more for food grown via sustainable means, those who rely on SNAP can’t enjoy this luxury.

The result? While the wealthiest Americans can afford to purchase organically grown foods rich in vitamins and minerals, the neediest battle deficiencies even when they consume adequate amounts. When hunger meets nutritional insufficiency, illness and suffering increase.

More than 11 million American children live in households with food insecurity. At any given time, there may not be enough food in the house to meet all family member’s nutritional needs. This dynamic also makes the Trump administration SNAP cuts unnecessarily cruel. Many parents willingly give up meals so that their children can eat. However, malnutrition causes cognitive challenges and other health woes that can make holding down steady employment difficult.

One solution involves utilizing public spaces to develop sustainable community gardens to feed all in need. Change Food’s new program Plant Eat Share encourages growing and providing healthy food for free. However, until initiatives and organizations like this one reach more communities, people will continue to suffer.

No One Should Go Hungry in the Richest Nation on Earth

The bottom line? Ample resources exist to ensure that no American goes hungry. As a society, we must collectively say that everyone deserves regular, healthy meals — bottom line.


Emily Folk covers agricultural and sustainability topics. You can find more of her work on her blog, Conservation Folks

Change Food® works toward a healthier food system for people, animals & the planet.  Learn more about Plant Eat Share – planting food in public spaces. For free.