House Ag Committee Hearing on SNAP Benefits

Sabrina HalvorsonLegislative

Photo by Siegfried Poepperl on Unsplash

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) was highlighted at a House Agriculture Committee hearing on the farm bill late last week. Though it’s referred to as the Farm Bill, more than 75 percent of the spending in the bill is for nutrition programs such as SNAP.  Chairman David Scott of Georgia used his opening statement to discuss the importance of the program.

“SNAP is one of the most impactful programs that we work on in this committee. It is the nation’s largest anti-hunger program. It addresses the food insecurity of those most in need in our country,” Scott said. “In 2020 10.5% of US households or 13.8 million Americans were food insecure, and the COVID-19 pandemic made it very difficult for many families to even afford the basic necessities especially including food.”

Ranking member GT Thompson of Pennsylvania first expressed his appreciation for programs like SNAP that help feed the nation’s hungry, but also said he has concerns about some funding issues.

“I do hope today allows for some conversation on pandemic-related policies in spending,” he said. “I remain concerned pandemic aid is set to become endemic aid and that various issues caused by this administration’s own actions and at times inaction have caused my colleagues and their mouth pieces with an immediate thinking, (that) emergency allotments and SNAP-related waivers should be carried on in perpetuity and I beg to differ.”

Veteran hunger was also a focus of the hearing. Representative Jahana Hayes of Connecticut recently led the introduction of the bipartisan Feed Hungry Veterans Act to expand access to federal nutrition programs for disabled veterans.

“We know that there are still people who are falling through the cracks. USDA research has found that veterans, in particular, face a greater risk for food insecurity than nonveterans,” she said. She discussed a hearing held last year on the matter.  “I heard directly from veterans on how the lack of access to SNAP programs negatively impacts their lives, their ability to look for work, their mental health, and their nutrition needs. Their stories echo the research which shows that an unacceptable 33.6% of disabled veterans are food insecure. That is not a statistic that any of us should be proud of .”

The 2018 Farm Bill had a total of 428 billion dollars in funding. Seventy-six percent, or $325.8 billion dollars was for nutrition programs.

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Sabrina Halvorson
National Correspondent / AgNet Media, Inc.

Sabrina Halvorson is an award-winning journalist, broadcaster, and public speaker who specializes in agriculture. She primarily reports on legislative issues and hosts The AgNet News Hour and The AgNet Weekly podcast. Sabrina is a native of California’s agriculture-rich Central Valley.