Last week, the US House narrowly passed their harmful version of the Farm Bill. The bill originally failed to pass the House because of its many harmful provisions that would have taken SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formally known as Food Stamps) away from North Carolinians struggling with food insecurity. On this second attempt, the bill passed by only a few votes with Democrats and moderate Republicans voting against it.
This week, the US Senate is preparing to take a vote on their version. While the US House proposal will hurt our state, the US Senate version will do the opposite. Not only does the Senate bill fully fund SNAP, it invests in Employment and Training programs that help SNAP recipients find meaningful work.
Although much better, the Senate version is not free and clear of potentially harmful provisions.
Several potential amendments are already beginning to emerge from the Senate. One potential amendment would prevent states from waiving work requirements for hungry adults in counties where their are no jobs available. In 2016, the NC General Assemble passed legislation banning the state from applying for this very waiver, taking food assistance away from as many at 100,000 North Carolinian.
Another potential amendment would require SNAP participants to provide identification when purchasing food. This change would place heavy burdens on retailers and SNAP participants as well as adding inefficiency to an otherwise extremely efficient program. With this provision, teenagers would not be able to shop for their families, relatives and neighbors would not be able to shop for home-bound elderly and disabled family members, and those who don’t have a government issue ID would be barred from using their own benefits.
Last year, North Carolina was the 10th hungriest state in the nation, with more than 600,000 households struggling to place food on the table each night. SNAP is a critical tool in helping to address that need. In the same year, more than 1.3 million North Carolinians participated in SNAP.
Take a look below to see how else the House and Senate versions differ: