June 14, 2017

Effective Anti-Hunger Program Assisting One in Six Floridians Faces Deep Cuts

Federal funding cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program would shift costs to Floridians and leave families without sufficient food on their tables

LAKE MARY, FL – The Florida Policy Institute (FPI) and Florida Legal Services Inc. today pointed to a new report on the fiscal impact of proposed cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — an anti-hunger program helping families afford nutritious food — which shows that Florida would face an estimated $9 billion cost shift in SNAP benefits over the next 10 years. Roughly two out of three program recipients are children, elderly, or people with a disability. The report, published by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP),  provides estimates of the impact that the severe cuts proposed in the Administration’s budget would have on states’ bottom lines.

“SNAP’s effectiveness as an anti-hunger program and its benefit to local economies is well documented,” said Joseph F. Pennisi, executive director of FPI. “The people who utilize SNAP are our neighbors, local retail and hospitality employees and our children’s friends.  Access to nutritious food is one of the most basic human needs. Congress must fight to protect this program, because if they don’t, Florida will be forced to either make massive cuts to SNAP, or reduce support for critical public services.”

“The SNAP program is value added to Florida,” said Cindy Huddleston, attorney with Florida Legal Services Inc. “Florida does not pay one penny of the cost of SNAP benefits that go to recipients. The federal government pays one hundred percent of the benefit amount. This makes the SNAP program a win-win: hungry children are fed and the federal government pays for the cost.”

The Florida Policy Institute’s latest policy brief points to the anti-hunger program’s successes:

  • SNAP acts as a lifeline for almost 3.6 million Floridians, including children, seniors and people with disabilities.
  • Between 2009 and 2012, SNAP lifted more than 500,000 Floridians out of poverty, including more than 200,000 children.
  • SNAP injected roughly $5.7 billion into Florida’s economy in Fiscal Year 2015-16, as recipients spent these dollars at local stores.
  • One dollar in SNAP benefits generates at least $1.70 in local economic activity.

Historically, SNAP benefits have been financed with federal funds to ensure that regional disparities in hunger, poverty and resources are properly addressed, which has helped ensure that low-income households have access to adequate food, despite where they might live.  States are responsible for only 50 percent of administrative costs.

This financing structure would end, however, if the Administration’s budget proposal is enacted. Under the plan, states would have to cover 10 percent of SNAP benefit costs beginning in 2020, with the share increasing to 25 percent in 2023. The proposal would cut federal SNAP funding by $116 billion over a decade.

If the provision takes effect, Florida would face approximately $1.3 billion in added annual costs, and over the next decade, Florida would shoulder roughly $9 billion in additional costs, according to CBPP.

The Sunshine State is already struggling to meet existing needs, let alone absorb new costs. The state faces potential shortfalls in the future, and the estimated cost shift would only exacerbate Florida’s projected budget shortfall.

The Florida Policy Institute is an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting widespread prosperity through timely, thoughtful and objective analysis of state policy issues affecting economic opportunity.

Florida Legal Services Inc. is a statewide leader in advancing economic, social and racial justice. They advocate for poor, vulnerable and hard to reach people through impact litigation, legislative and administrative advocacy, education, and strategic partnerships

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