BATON ROUGE; July 27, 2019 On Tuesday, July 23rd, the USDA published a proposed rule which would threaten the ability of more than 3 million low-income families, seniors, and people with disabilities to keep food on the table by significantly undercutting the long-standing Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility (BBCE) policy. This policy is currently used by over 40 states to reduce the application burden for families and individuals who have already qualified for other anti-poverty programs, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
Feeding Louisiana’s Executive Director, Korey Patty, explains, “As noted by the USDA in its own analysis of the proposal, this rule would have the effect of increasing food insecurity across the nation by rescinding SNAP benefits from more than 3 million low-income Americans. Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility is an important tool that states utilize to increase their ability to combat food insecurity, and its elimination would hurt these efforts across the country.”
According to Feeding America, more than 773,000 Louisianans, including over 255,000 children, struggle with food insecurity in our state every year. Feeding Louisiana firmly supports any policy which ensures that struggling families can access SNAP benefits when they need them most. Due to the connection between BBCE and other federal anti-poverty programs, we expect a threat to this option would primarily impact our nation’s most vulnerable members including low-income working families, seniors, and people with disabilities.
BBCE serves as a key tool for the working poor and those who are building up their savings in order to become economically independent; it allows SNAP recipients to get back on their feet without draining their assets (ex: a modest savings account, etc.) in the process. It also considers a net income calculation, the total income minus living costs. This alternative calculation eases the effects of the “benefits cliff” where a slight increase in income can render a family no longer eligible for their SNAP benefits without ensuring that this income is equal to or greater than the benefits they were receiving.
Hunger remains a major crisis in our state and across the country; any rule which will push low-income families and individuals deeper into poverty without a pathway to employment or economic stability is short-sighted and irresponsible. Feeding Louisiana strongly opposes this harmful proposed rule and we encourage the public to voice their opposition to this rule by submitting a comment here; the comment period will close at midnight on September 23rd, 2019.
Feeding Louisiana provides a unified voice for Louisiana's hungry by providing short-term food relief while seeking long-term solutions to hunger through advocacy, education, and leadership. Feeding Louisiana is made up of the five Feeding America member food banks in Louisiana, serving all 64 parishes through a network of more than 900 community and faith-based organizations.