Advocates Decry Trump Administration Plan To Rein In Food Stamp Access

People who get Temporary Assistance for Needy Families would no longer be automatically eligible for food stamp, or SNAP, benefits under a proposal from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Agriculture)

By Miranda Faulkner

WASHINGTON – Arizona is one of the 43 states that could be affected by a Trump administration proposal to tighten restrictions on access to food stamps for people receiving other financial assistance.

The Department of Agriculture said the rule, to be released Wednesday for public comment, would close a “loophole” in current policy that makes those getting Temporary Assistance for Needy Families automatically eligible for food stamps under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

The change would require TANF recipients to show that they separately qualify for SNAP benefits, a move the department estimates could affect 3.1 million food stamp recipients in the U.S. while saving billions of dollars.

The impact on Arizona is unclear, but advocates said they expect the change would hit the working poor and people on fixed incomes hardest.

“The types of people that are going to be affected are going to be predominantly people with income,” said Angie Rodgers, CEO of the Association of Arizona Food Banks. “The working-but-poor individuals that might work at low wages or not have enough hours for full-time employment, and for seniors on fixed incomes like Social Security.”

Arizona had 810,525 recipients on SNAP in June of which 365,894, or about 45%, were children, according to the most recent numbers from the Arizona Department of Economic Security. DES said there were 13,253 TANF recipients last month, of which 10,992 were children.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a news release Tuesday that the automatic eligibility has been used as a loophole by states that administer the SNAP program to “bypass important eligibility guidelines.”

“Too often, states have misused this flexibility without restraint,” Perdue’s statement said. “The American people expect their government to be fair, efficient, and to have integrity … That is why we are changing the rules, preventing abuse of a critical safety net system, so those who need food assistance the most are the only ones who receive it.”

Perdue said that under current rules, some people who get as little as a flier in the mail with information on TANF benefits can be considered eligible for SNAP in some states. Under the proposal, a household would have to get at least $50 in TANF benefits a month for at least six months before being considered eligible for SNAP, or get noncash benefits that include subsidized employment, work support or child care.

The Arizona DES said Tuesday that it does not comment on proposals for rules or rule changes. But Rodgers estimated that the rule could impact as many as 30,000 people in Arizona.


Stacy Dean, vice president of food assistance policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said the changes would make it harder for the poor and working poor to make ends meet.

“Instead of punishing working families if they work more hours or penalizing seniors and people with disabilities who save for emergencies, the President should seek to assist them with policies that help them afford the basics and save for the future,” Dean said in a prepared statement.

But the Agriculture Department argues that the proposal could save billions of dollars and protect SNAP, ensuring that “benefits go toward Americans most in need.”

That argument did not resonate with Arizona Democrats. Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix, said in a tweetthat the proposal “takes food off the tables of hungry American families,” while Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Tucson, called it another Republican favor to wealthy taxpayers.

“While the GOP gave tax breaks to the wealthy & corporations with the #GOPTaxScam, they are taking food off the table for America’s working families,” Grijalva tweeted. “This means more food insecurity and poorer health outcomes for millions of vulnerable families.”

The proposed rule is scheduled to be published Wednesday in the Federal Register and will be open for public comment for 60 days.


  1. “Working poor” as defined by the Trump administration is just south of $40,000 a year. Really? Just a whole lot of liberal hype as families making $40,000 DON’T need food stamps. Thank you Mr. President and keep up the good work.

  2. Oh this makes me very Happy
    I have seen so much abuse in people reciving SNAP and abuse it
    I have reported them it falls on deaf ears Yes help people who are trying to better them selves
    But the ones that lie and say homeless and getting 200 or more
    Or are selling theirs for drugs
    And they give CASH to drug addicts Yes Cash 100 a month
    With out tracking what its used for
    What they do track is where its used But not what ..Just Amazing
    A family of 6 will get 800 or more plus cash to buy cookies
    Cokes single water instead of a gallon the cost differeance is a couple of bucks
    Abuse abuse I am tired of people claming kids that no longer live in the home and then the obes that lie and reuse the same kids name and fake ssn and such to screw us good hard working people
    I can still name 20 people that abuse close to 4 thousand amonth But DES dosent care
    And they need to regulate the type of food bought with it
    Like WIC does
    Food companys are gonna be pissed
    Single 6 oz cokes for 2 bucks no no
    Buy generic a gallon for a buck
    Candy candy chips at 4 bucks a bag gone in ten minutes no value as a food except it turns into a bad sugar
    We need to support the ones that need it And Stop the ones that are abuseing it
    Many Many Illegals are getting
    Snap and cash here in Az
    Claiming their sisters kids cousins of cousins etc
    Az is Good State but its oversight, has lost its oversite
    Slackers at home 22 -35 yr olds saying they are homeless get 200 a month These are the ones and the ones Stealing food from the real ones that need it
    Stop the abuse
    Hope Ducey has the balls to Stand up to this and supports the need to Stop the Abuse of SNAP
    To slackers and hackers
    If you know of abuse Call it in Ask for their name to ducument the call made to DES
    Help the ones that need it
    Not the ones that ABUSE IT

  3. Good for President Trump. It is so annoying to see someone pay for food using an EBT card and then pull out a big wad of money to pay for the things not covered by the EBT alll the while being on their smart phone and then taking those groceries out to a new vehicle

  4. yes all ya gotta do is go to the stores on the south side and see who is getting this “aide”. I am over weight according to the dr, but these folks are obese! Used to be a WIC program where family could get milk and stuff for babies, but now it seems that there must be a lot of ‘babies’ in the house, and they are not buying milk and essentials anymore.

    When as a teen we lived in very upstate NY. They did a study and families had been on welfare for GENERATIONS, so they made it a requirement to work to get the stuff. worked with a guy for 2 weeks who said he got more from the system and walked off the job. Big fuss and I guess that all went away, why work if healthy when ya can get it all for FREE? Now its the same but illegals are also getting in on the fun thus a lot of the DRAW to get here, and the dems like the toad are just whinning and crying that the source of their income may be going away. Yes the democraps really are concerned about this as it will have impact on them getting their votes.

  5. The real problem here is that the needed helping hand of temporary elation has turned into permanent expectation.

    The Oracle

  6. Good for Trump! While I could benefit from the “free (paid for by taxpayers) benefits” I choose to make my own way.

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