Economic mobility is not possible without first having basic financial stability. In other words, before you can move up in this world, you need to be able to feed your kids. For families who are truly struggling, the federal SNAP program (aka, “food stamps”) ensures kids, seniors and other vulnerable people have the nutrition they need to get through the day at school or at work.
This week, Congress is debating the farm bill, which proposes massive cuts to the SNAP nutrition program - by $20.5 billion over 10 years. The House bill would cause 2 million people to lose their SNAP benefits entirely, 210,000 children to lose free school meals, and 850,000 households to see their benefits cut by an average $90 per month. The primary people affected by this change are low-income seniors and families with kids.
Of particular concern to Opportunity Fund, this bill would reverse a law in California (and in 35 other states) that allows people to qualify for food benefits even if they have a savings account (called “eliminating the asset test”). There are two problems with asset tests – one is immediate, the other affects families over time. First, when we force people to liquidate all their savings, they have nothing to fall back on. Second, when you tell people to decide between saving or feeding their kids, they become scared of holding money in a bank account at all (called a “disincentive to save”). Food from the SNAP program helps people get stable so they can save and start looking towards the future.