Blog Posts > Support Veterans by Protecting Food Assistance

Support Veterans by Protecting Food Assistance

Written by Caitlin Cook on November 9, 2018

On Monday, we will celebrate the service and sacrifice of American Veterans. Here at the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, we think no one in America should go hungry, especially not our veterans once they return home to West Virginia. So we’re calling on Congress to support and pass a farm bill that protects and strengthens the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Nationwide, SNAP helps more than 1.4 million veterans keep food on the table, and here in the Mountain State, more than 13,000 West Virginia veterans receive food assistance from SNAP. The programs around 340,000 people in West Virginia – a state in which nearly 15 percent of households are food insecure and 30 percent struggle to make ends meet – get back on their feet and pay for groceries, including seniors, people with disabilities, and many workers who are in between jobs or working a job with unstable hours and few benefits.

This is particularly important for low-income veterans, who may be struggling to find a job, working in low-wage jobs, or have disabilities. Veterans often face unique barriers as they seek to resume or rebuild their civilian lives and start new careers. For example, young veterans who leave active duty may have little work experience beyond military service or may have trouble finding a job that matches their skills. Young recent male veterans have higher unemployment rates and lower labor force participation rates than similar civilians, which can make it harder for them to afford enough to eat.

Numerous studies have linked SNAP to improved health and financial outcomes. Additionally, the need for accessing SNAP is sure to grow in West Virginia with more than 60 percent of future new jobs will be in low-wage work. Department of Agriculture data shows that 15 million households with 40 million people struggled to get enough food in 2017.
Although the benefits of SNAP are clear, the program’s future remains less so. The farm bill passed on a bipartisan basis by the U.S. Senate in June protects SNAP for veterans and others who are struggling and strengthens programs that can help veterans on SNAP get and keep a good-paying job.

In contrast, the version of the bill approved by the U.S. House would cause many veterans and others to lose food assistancethrough expandedharsh work requirements. Members of both houses are currently working to reach agreement on a final farm bill, but President Trump has expressed strong support for the House proposal to take away food assistance from people who don’t meet a rigid work requirement.

The bipartisan farm bill passed by the Senate affirms what millions of people across the country know to be true: SNAP reduces hunger and poverty, and protecting and strengthening SNAP-not cutting it-is the right way forward.

 

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