[contents: food stamps, SNAP,Jeb Bush,Paul Ryan,block grants,marriage does not end poverty, states that will see SNAP cuts this month or soon, food insecurity,CSAs and food stamps,low income cooking classes for kids]

 

Our Prez had this to say about food stamps last night in the State of the Union address ….

via Think Progress

He isn’t wrong.

Meanwhile, Paul Ryan has been talking about poverty. He and other GOP dudes has what is being called “a bold and big new plan to end poverty”. On January 9th, Ryan and Sen Tim Scott moderated a Republican presidential forum on poverty.

Now, without even hearing what was said, I would assume that any plan put forth by the GOP to end poverty could also be dubbed The Bootstrap Plan. The idea of poverty solutions coming from the Republican party is laughable . Media Matters correctly identified the forum as a sham. Paul Ryan tossed out some sound bytes that sounded like he was trying to get some bipartisan support for these bold ideas. He talked about how we need to “Push wages up. Push the cost of living down. Get people off the sidelines.” One of the key takeaway points was that “a job is the only way out of poverty”, which completely ignores the current situation in the U.S. where many people in poverty DO have jobs…plural….and still live in poverty. This also really doesn’t address how disabled and elderly people or people who are caregivers for children or elderly family members are to be lifted out of poverty. Overall, the policies discussed contradict what the evidence says current safety net programs do and would increase poverty instead.

On the topic of SNAP,  there was much talk of “reform” and outright ending the program entirely. Jeb Bush laid out his plan prior to the poverty forum. His plan is to end SNAP and said “I know that giving states more flexibility will open the door for transformative ideas to eliminate poverty and increase opportunity”.   Whatever the hell that means. He also suggested that marriage is what will bring people out of poverty and on that key point, I’m done listening to anything he says.

(No,marriage won’t solve poverty, types the married blogger living in poverty)

Thankfully, economist Jared Bernstein explains what what Jeb’s plan is. When GOP candidates talk about ending SNAP, they mean they will cut SNAP as a federal program and give over to states an “opportunity grant” to be used to fund states’ own version of these programs. It’s a terrible idea and Bernstein explains:

The main reason this idea is so destructive is that it undermines the essence of the safety net, or its countercyclical function. The figure above makes the case (as the figure’s a bit gnarly, I pasted in the data below). It shows that when the last downturn hit, SNAP caseloads quickly responded to the loss of income among low-income households, while Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) hardly responded at all. The opportunity grant threatens to turn SNAP into TANF, killing the former’s countercyclical aspect in the same way block grants killed it for TANF.

We can learn a lot more about this bad idea from studying how SNAP worked in the last recession and thereafter.

Its countercyclical response in the figure is undeniable. Given that, some critics try to move the goalposts by granting that SNAP is responsive at the start of a downturn but arguing it’s less so later in the expansion, implying that it’s taking too long for

caseloads to fall as the economy has improved. There’s no question that SNAP caseloads, which are now slowly coming down, remained elevated as the unemployment rate fell. But for a number of reasons, that proves little.

You can read all of Bernstein’s WaPo article here.

Last week, Talk Poverty reported on The Ten Worst States for Food Insecurity. I’m thinking about what ending SNAP and giving block grants to those states would mean. For the love of Paul Ryan’s gym shorts….that can’t happen.
TenWorstStates-FoodInsecurity

Moving on to other SNAP & food justice related things….
Let me start with a few GOOD THINGS:

⇒ you can finally use SNAP to get a CSA share. This will help some people gain access to fresh produce but honestly, probably only if the CSA does a sliding scale fee or type of discount for SNAP share holders  [via Modern Farmer]

⇒ MicroGreens is a great non-profit that teaches 6th and 7th graders how to cook healthy meals on a SNAP budget [via Civil Eats]

⇒ A school cut the summer meal program for low income kids ,so this woman got her caterer’s license and a pub let her use their kitchen to cook meals for them. Hero. [via Upworthy ]

Ok, on to the bad stuff.

SNAP cuts are now in effect or pending in the following states….
New Jersey

New Mexico

North Carolina (23 counties)

Mississippi

Pennsylvania

Tennessee (and Arkansas)

As many as 1 million people could lose SNAP this year [via Daily Kos]

Most of these cuts are due to states ending job waivers and enforcing time restrictions.

But as this points out, Requiring jobs won’t make jobs appear

 


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