70 U.S. mayors urge USDA to forgo rule change for food stamps

Aug. 22 (UPI) — A group of 70 mayors from across the United States are urging the Trump administration to shelve a proposal they say would cut off critical food benefits to millions of American homes.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors sent a letter to the Department of Agriculture to oppose proposed changes to close loopholes for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

The USDA announced the change last month, saying it closes a loophole that expands SNAP in some states to recipients who don’t need it. It also puts a hard cap on recipients’ income level. As many as 3 million Americans could lose the assistance, as a result. President Donald Trump has called for a $ 220 billion reduction by 2030.

The mayors said doing so is the wrong move.

“For instance, 80 percent of SNAP households include a child, an elderly person, or a person with disabilities; and 85 percent of all SNAP benefits go to such households,” the mayors wrote in a letter Thursday.

“Executive action should not be used to hurt individuals, families and communities; and we urge you to abandon this proposal. Our nation cannot remain globally competitive if our children do not have enough to eat.”

“SNAP remains one of our nations’ key resources in the fight against hunger and is particularly important to vulnerable populations in our cities.”

The USDA said an unintended consequence to the rule change would limit automatic SNAP qualifications for a number of recipients who are receiving only limited, temporary benefits. The mayors said 3.1 million recipients who truly need the aid, including children and the disabled, may not receive it under the proposed change.

“This proposal will put children’s health and development at risk by removing their access to healthy school meals; and harm our economy by reducing the amount of SNAP dollars available to spur regional and local economic activity,” they wrote.

Among the city leaders who signed onto the letter are Mayors Bill de Blasio of New York City, Pete Buttgieg of South Bend, Ind., Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles and Muriel Bowser of Washington, D.C. De Blasio and Buttgieg are also Democratic candidates for president.

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