December 20, 2018 – Today, the Department of Agriculture announced a proposed rule change that would limit access to SNAP (commonly known as food stamps) for hundreds of Oregonians. This rule change will affect people who are struggling the most to eat, have shelter and survive.

“Our mission at Oregon Food Bank is to solve hunger and the root causes of hunger. SNAP is a critical safety net and has been proven to lift people out of poverty,” says Susannah Morgan, Oregon Food Bank CEO. “Over the past year, we have have joined anti-poverty advocates across the country in a successful effort to protect SNAP benefits. In the past week, Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill with bi-partisan support and no cuts to SNAP. But today, our relief at protecting SNAP has evaporated due to the announcement of the proposed rule.”

Most adults who receive benefits are working or looking for work, others are elderly or have a disability. Yet, the rule would make it much more difficult for people who are unemployed or underemployed to eat. SNAP work requirements are impossible burdens for people struggling with the challenges of finding a job and the realities of poverty. For communities with disproportionate unemployment – rural communities in Southern and Eastern Oregon, communities of color across the state and veterans – work requirements are an additional and sometimes insurmountable barrier.

The proposed rule change will make it even more difficult than it is now for states to respond to the needs of its communities. Current law limits people who aren’t raising children in their homes to three months of food stamps if they are not working or in a training program for 20 hours a week. States with areas of high unemployment have been able to seek waivers in order to extend benefits beyond three months. The new rule will curtail these waivers and increase the punishing reach of hunger in underemployed communities. Our most vulnerable communities will bear the punishment.

Rule changes require a 60-day public comment period, which starts today. Oregon Food Bank will be joining the outcry of opposition to this new attempt to starve our communities. Join us by submitting a public comment.