North Carolina is the 8th hungriest state in the U.S. Each night, nearly 630,000 households, many with children, do not have enough food to eat. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as FNS or food stamps) is an extremely important tool in fighting hunger in our state. In 2015, 1.6 million North Carolinians benefited from SNAP. In addition to placing food on the table, SNAP benefits pumped $2 billion into the North Carolina economy last year.
Here’s a story driving home how critical SNAP is for North Carolinians supporting their families:
Despite SNAP’s efficiency and history of success, the program is under attack.
This year, state lawmakers are attempting to reduce the number of families who receive SNAP benefits. The N.C. Senate budget aims to eliminate SNAP for 133,000 low-income North Carolinians by eliminating a policy known as categorical eligibility.
Last year, state lawmakers imposed an unnecessary three-month time limit on adults who need SNAP who are living in communities with little or no job opportunities. As a result of this policy, up to 100,000 people may be denied SNAP benefits while they work to get themselves back on their feet.
The president’s budget, released yesterday, aims to shift the costs of SNAP away from the federal government, and onto the states. Over the next ten years, North Carolina would have to come up with $3.9 billion in order to continue to provide SNAP to people who need it.
Many of the attacks on SNAP and other programs are based on stereotypes and misconceptions about who in our state needs help. If policy makers took a closer look, they would see that programs like SNAP help people like Darrell who are simply doing their best to make ends meet in spite of circumstances.
A strong North Carolina is one where everyone—children, adults, the elderly, the employed and those out of work—is in a position to succeed and do their best. If we choose support those who need help the most, rather than punishing them, we can help North Carolina thrive.
Brian Kennedy II is a Public Policy Fellow with the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the North Carolina Justice Center.