July 26, 2019

Thousands at risk of losing food stamps in Florida [Miami Herald]

Lautaro Grinspan of the Miami Herald writes:

"Hundreds of thousands of Floridians’ safety nets could soon take a hit.

That’s because the Trump administration proposed a new rule earlier this week that would curb enrollment in food stamps (formally called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP) by 3.1 million people nationwide. Fueling the policy change — as explained by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue — is a perception that a “loophole” is making SNAP enrollment easy to game, keeping assistance from reaching only those who need it most.

Specifically, the USDA’s new rule cracks down on a policy used in 43 states — including Florida — called broad-based categorical eligibility, or BBCE, a provision that lets low-income people access food stamps more easily. Limiting BBCE would result, according to the USDA, in a budget windfall of $2.5 billion a year.


When Florida implemented BBCE in 2010, it set the eligibility for most households at 200 percent of the poverty line — that’s the most generous eligibility threshold in the nation, shared by 15 other states.

'Having that little comfort zone between 130 and 200 percent of poverty really means a lot to these families, and it saves them from having to go off the benefit cliff where you lose all your benefits but you still don’t have enough income to make up for the difference,' said Cindy Huddleston, a senior policy analyst at the Florida Policy Institute [emphasis added]. 'If your income is over 130 percent of the federal poverty line, without [BBCE], that would be the end of the road for your SNAP eligibility determination. [...] And who that’s going to affect the most are the working poor, people who are out there working, and food assistance is what lets them survive.'"


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