Fifty Food and Farm Groups Demand Congress Reject Stricter Work Requirements for Food Stamps

“Good Food For All” Coalition Also Calls for Farm Bill to Address Historical Racial Inequities

Published Apr 17, 2018

WASHINGTON (April 17, 2018)— The Good Food for All (GFFA) Coalition, a group of 50 food and farm groups, and their 20 allies, sent a letter to members of the Senate and House agriculture committees, demanding they reject new work requirements for participants of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps. GFFA, which includes groups from more than 20 states, works on issues ranging from urban agriculture to farmworker protections to healthy food access.

The House Agriculture Committee will mark up the farm bill, which contains the new work requirements, tomorrow. The Senate committee takes up the bill next month.

"Millions of Americans continue to struggle finding work, or work in jobs with low pay—this is especially true for communities of color and other socially disenfranchised groups in Detroit,” said Winona Bynum, executive director of the Detroit Food Policy Council, which is a member of GFFA. “Everyone in this country wants a food system, from farm to fork, that we can be proud of, yet the farm bill would take food out of the mouths of mothers, fathers, grandparents and people with disabilities.”

Nearly two-thirds of SNAP participants are children, elderly, or have disabilities, and therefore cannot hold a job, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And for those who can work, SNAP overwhelmingly supports workers between jobs.

The GFFA coalition calls on the House and Senate agriculture committees to address historic inequities embedded in federal policy by delivering a farm bill that:

  • Maintains SNAP’s current funding and structure without any new restrictions or qualifications that would limit the participation of individuals, working families, children, senior citizens, veterans, or individuals with disabilities.
  • Increases funding for federal programs and policies that address socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, many of whom are leaving their professions, to at least $25 million a year.
  • Maintain funding for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program.
  • Bolsters federal programs designed to both support farmers and connect rural and urban low-access communities to healthy, affordable food:
    • Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Grant Program: Increase annual mandatory funding from $100 million over five years to $50 million annually, while maintaining the program’s focus on increasing fruits and vegetables consumption.
    • Farmers Market & Local Food Promotion Program: Increase annual mandatory fundingfrom $30 million to at least $50 million per year.
    • Healthy Food Financing Initiative: Expand to include additional healthy food businesses.

“Historically, the farm bill has been shaped largely by agribusiness and commodity groups that tend to focus on extensive production of industrial and export products,” said Ruth Tyson, coalitions coordinator with the Food and Environment Program at Union of Concerned Scientists. “We need a more inclusive farm bill that ensures that from farm to fork our food system supports healthy people, local economies and the environment. To start, we need more diverse voices at the table, including consumers, farmers of color, food hubs serving rural and urban communities, and farmers and ranchers who are rebuilding soil health.”