Blog Posts > Policies That Further Restrict SNAP Harm Families, Retailers, and the Charitable Sector
January 18, 2024

Policies That Further Restrict SNAP Harm Families, Retailers, and the Charitable Sector


Read the full fact sheet here.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) is the most powerful anti-hunger tool in the United States. It is highly responsive to economic downturns, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic, where unemployment peaked at over 15 percent in West Virginia.[1] SNAP already contains work reporting requirements and robust fraud protection measures and has among the lowest fraud rates of any federal program.[2] Despite all the robust protection measures already in place, state lawmakers have regularly introduced legislation to further limit the program through additional bureaucratic red tape or increasingly complex eligibility requirements, which often have significant unintended consequences for families, retailers, the charitable food sector, and the broader economy.

In recent months, the state has lost significant federal SNAP dollars due to the reinstatement of pre-pandemic policies. SNAP provided emergency allotments to enrollees throughout the pandemic to maintain access to food amid rising food costs and economic uncertainty. In West Virginia, individuals received an additional $100 on average.[3] Families and charitable food providers felt the impact when the allotments ended in March 2023, taking roughly $32 million monthly out of the state economy.[4] 

Additionally, in October 2023, pre-pandemic time limits for so-called “able-bodied adults without dependents” (often referred to as ABAWDs) went back into effect. Since that provision was rolled out, approximately 12,000 West Virginians have lost their federal SNAP benefits, resulting in over $2 million in lost food assistance each month.[5]

Combined, the state’s food economy has $34 million less circulating through it monthly than it did just a year ago.

Download the full fact sheet here.

[1] Rogombe, Rhonda and Kelly Allen, “West Virginia Policymakers Will Soon Lose Power to Use SNAP Flexibilities to Address Economic Downturns if Action is Not Taken,” West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, February 2022.

[2] Food and Nutrition Service, “USDA Releases New Report on Trafficking and Announces Additional Measures to Improve Integrity in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program,” United States Department of Agriculture, August 2013.

[3] Hall, Lauren, “End of SNAP’s Temporary Emergency Allotments Resulted in Substantial Benefit Cut,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, September 2023.

[4] Hall, Lauren and Catlin Nchako, “A Closer Look at Who Benefits from SNAP: State-by-State Fact Sheets,” February 2023. Note: Multiplied the number of recipients in FY 2022 by the difference in average allotments before and after emergency allotments ended March 2023.

[5] West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources data received through an email request dated December 21, 2023. Note: Calculated the difference between non-exempt ABAWDs September to December 2023 plus the difference between exempt ABAWDs over the same period.

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