SNAP proposal would cut $4.5 billion from food stamps

LINCOLN - Time is running out for the public to comment on the Trump administration's third proposal this year for changing the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps.

The latest move would cut $4.5 billion from the program over five years by changing how states calculate benefits based on utility bills.

More than seven million low-income Americans are projected to see an average benefit loss of just over $30 a month.

Mike Hornacek is the president and CEO of the Omaha-based group Together.

"With Nebraska families already feeling the pinch and being squeezed with their incomes, now is not the time for us to be taking away benefits from hard working Nebraska families," says Hornacek.

Hornacek notes that older adults and people with disabilities would be disproportionately impacted. He says the rule would revoke Nebraska's streamlined process for taking utility costs into account when calculating benefits.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says the proposal aims to modernize SNAP and reduce benefit discrepancies between states.

The USDA projects 44% of Nebraska families participating in SNAP would see benefit cuts of around $35 a month. Hornacek says that's significant, given that the average benefits are just $4 per person per day.

Hornacek says he's in favor of evaluating systems and modernizing how benefits are calculated.

"But there can't be that, at the expense of hurting Nebraska families and individuals that really rely on those benefits to be able to make ends meet," says Hornacek.

Previous proposals by the Trump administration for SNAP would change the way states determine eligibility and limit a state's flexibility on work requirements, both of which are projected to result in fewer people being able to get assistance.

Comments on the latest proposal can be registered online through Monday at FRAC.org.

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