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Hunger games

Editorials

7/26/2019, 6 a.m.
Nearly every week we get a new indicator of the cruelty of the current White House administration and its lopsided ...

Nearly every week we get a new indicator of the cruelty of the current White House administration and its lopsided favoritism for the nation’s greedy corporate and individual 1 percenters at the expense of the 99 percent of us at the bottom.

The latest: The Trump administration’s proposed changes to the food stamp program that would boot more than 3 million people off the rolls.

Currently, individuals and families must have a gross income at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level to qualify for SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps. For a mother with two children, for example, her yearly income cannot exceed $27,024 to qualify. 

However, about 43 states allow food stamps for people with incomes as high as 200 percent of the poverty level through what’s known as broad-based categorical assistance. This allows mostly the working poor and others who receive other federal welfare assistance, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, to get food stamps as long as they have child care, housing and other expenses that cut their net incomes below a certain level, still leaving them with insufficient money for food.

Trump administration officials said the changes would close this “loophole,” eliminating 3.1 million people from the hunger-fighting program and saving $1.9 billion annually for the next five years.

About 9 percent of all U.S. households now receiving food stamps would be cut, along with 13.2 percent of participating households with at least one elderly member.

According to advocates, the proposed cut was triggered by the loss of federal revenue brought about by the 2017 Tax Act that gave tax break windfalls to the very wealthy and corporations.

Bipartisan efforts in Washington beat back President Trump’s attempt in 2018 to cut the food stamp program and radically restructure SNAP, including imposing additional work requirements on able-bodied adults seeking assistance.

We are unsure how the Trump administration proposal will play out in Virginia, where 704,973 men, women and children receive food stamps, according to March figures reported by the state Department of Social Services. The average monthly food stamp benefit in the Commonwealth in March was $118.43 per person.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly 12 percent of U.S. households already are “food insecure,” meaning they lack consistent access to enough food because they lack adequate financial resources.

FeedMore, the Richmond area’s anti-hunger program, reports that one person out of every seven in Central Virginia struggles with food insecurity. More than 53,000 of them are children.

Through its network of food pantries, soup kitchens and community feeding programs, FeedMore provides more than 52,000 meals each day to people in need in 34 counties and cities across Central Virginia.

Advocates say those numbers would grow if the Trump administration kicks millions of seniors, disabled and children from the federal food stamp program.

Hunger already is a major problem in America, with 36 million people nationwide receiving food stamps. President Trump cares nothing about people who have fallen into the social safety net. Instead, he continues to press for tax breaks and programs that will benefit the rich.

The public has until Sept. 23 to comment and oppose the regulations. Go to: www.regulations.gov/document?D=FNS-2018-0037-0001

Our readers know what to do.

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