Amid Food Stamp Cuts, Associations Help Inform Providers and the Public
With a major cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program beginning this month, associations are playing a role in helping inform both affected providers and the individuals and families who receive SNAP benefits.
Some 47 million Americans across the country are now receiving less in monthly food stamps due to cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Beginning November 1, the budget for the federal program was reduced by $5 billion after a temporary boost from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act ended. For an average qualifying family of four, this means a $36 drop in benefits per month, or about 21 fewer meals per month, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers the program.
“It’s going to change the choices that people are able to make at the grocery store,” said Stephanie Nishio, director of programs at the California Association of Food Banks, which helps Californians access food assistance and nutrition programs.
To help inform those affected in California—home to two of the top five hungriest cities in the country (Bakersfield, which is number two, and number-five Fresno), according to the San Jose Mercury News—CAFB is working through its member organizations.
“The way that we have really reached out is through these organizations that are on the ground,” Nishio said. “We provided a lot of information, talking points, and flyers that they could customize for their clients.”
At a national level, the American Public Human Services Association has undertaken a number of initiatives to keep communication flowing and questions answered among its members—SNAP administrators—and food banks, said Larry Goolsby, director of strategic initiatives. The association, an umbrella organization that includes the American Association of SNAP Directors and other affiliates in the public human services field, is working to help administrators understand the technical aspects of the change, coordinating conversations between administrators and federal officials, and actively trading information with other organizations that have a stake in the matter.
Goolsby said that in times of economic stress or heightened congressional scrutiny of certain programs, associations have a major role to play in keeping their members informed on important policy developments.
“Associations can be that single voice that can represent the national priorities, national consensus on issues, and can be that quick and efficient conduit of information back to [members] and keep that feedback loop going between the national level and the membership level,” he said.