In May I wrote about upcoming cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and said it was anyone’s guess where a compromise would leave the program. Now August is here, Congress is in recess, and still nothing has been done to stave off cuts scheduled for November; cuts that will lead to a decrease in benefits for nearly 652,000 Oklahomans.
Further cuts still seem inevitable. For the first time since 1973, the House of Representatives approved a version of the Farm Bill without including provisions for SNAP benefits at all. Since then, reports say the House has begun working on a plan to propose cutting $40 Billion from SNAP. This effectively doubles the cuts they proposed in their failed attempt to pass a Farm Bill in June.
Still, the Senate has yet to act on the House’s version of the Farm Bill, so the fight is not over. However, the Food Research Action Center (FRAC) is justifiably alarmed by recent developments, seeing them as an “assault on SNAP.” Robert Greenstein, President of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, issued a statement on the subject last Friday calling the new proposal “stunningly harsh.” And while the policy debate on further cuts goes on in Washington, the current Farm Bill is set to expire in September.
The future of SNAP is unknown, but the history of the program is not. And to fully appreciate why SNAP is a vital part of the government’s safety net, it is important to look at this issue from a historical and scientific perspective. Why do we have food programs, including SNAP, in the first place? Why are these programs still needed today? (more…)