More than 46,000 Arizona households stand to lose access to food stamps if the Trump administration follows through on its proposed changes to the program, according to a new analysis funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a philanthropic group focused on healthcare.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly known as food stamps, is a federal program that provides millions of low-income American families with access to food and health programs.
Under SNAP’s current policy, states have the ability to adjust asset and income limits so recipients can increase their earnings or savings without losing access to the program.
Federal law allows households earning up to 130% of the poverty line – roughly $27,700 for a family of three – to obtain SNAP benefits. In Arizona, the state adjusted its income limit so that a family can currently earn up to 185% of the federal poverty line and still be eligible for certain SNAP benefits, assuming expenses such as rent decrease their net earnings.
But a proposed rule from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) would remove states flexibility to modify asset and income limits.
The new plan would also end states’ abilities to automatically enroll households that have met requirements for other low-income programs, such as Temporary Assistance for Need Families, in the food stamp program without undergoing income or asset tests.
The USDA’s plan would also limit eligibility by enforcing a “countable assets” cap limiting SNAP recipients to $2,250 in assets. Arizona previously eliminated its asset cap as a way of encouraging SNAP recipients to build up their savings.
These changes would cause an estimated 46,602 Arizona households to lose access to SNAP.
If the USDA follows through with its proposal, Arizona’s children stand to suffer the most; one in four Arizona children face food insecurity, according to the Association of Arizona Food Banks.
All told, 11% of SNAP households in Arizona would no longer qualify for benefits under the new rules, losing an average of $182 per month, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The proposal is currently undergoing a 60-day public comment period, that it set to come to an end on Sept 23. Interested parties can comment here.