February 19, 2014
SNAP cuts in the Farm Bill amount to $8.6 billion over 10 years and Washington State is one of those directly impacted. It’s estimated that 232,000 Washington households will experience a drop in benefits (up to $90 per month) due to a streamlining of the utility deduction process known as Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
The bill had modest boosts in nutrition supports in respects such as for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), for “double bucks” farmers’ market programs, for improved SNAP education and training programs, and for Healthy Food Financing. These are small positive steps but still don’t mitigate the damage to low income families. For example, if Washington received $20 million in new TEFAP funding, the amount allocated by the bill to the entire country, we would still by $50 million behind as DSHS estimates that lost benefits to the “heat and eat” change will total $70 million.
Rep. Suzan DelBene (District 1), a member of the House Agriculture Committee, worked hard to achieve expanded pilots of positive employment and training strategies like those utilized by the Seattle Jobs Initiative. Washington State is hopeful it will receive added funds for these pilots. However, language was added that opens the door for states to choose to pilot mandatory work requirements and require TANF work activities. Lastly language was also added potentially paving the way for potatoes to be added to the WIC food package against the recommendations by the Institute of Medicine. See the NWA blog post for details.