Five Things You Need to Know About SNAP and The Farm Bill

June 7, 2018

Update June 11, 2018: The Senate Farm Bill markup is set for Wednesday, June 13. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Senate Agriculture Committee’s bipartisan Farm Bill strengthens SNAP and avoids harming families.

For more information, check out the Senate Ag Committee website, or watch the livestream of the markup.

The House is expected to hold a second vote on H.R. 2 on June 22.

Update, May 18, 2018: Today, the U.S. House of Representatives rejected the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, also called the Farm Bill. Every Democratic member and 30 Republicans voted down the malicious legislation. The Center for Law and Social Policy reports that House leadership may push for another vote on the bill the week of May 21.  Stay tuned and stay active!


The “Farm Bill” (also known as the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018) is making its way through Congress. Here’s a look at how this big piece of legislation affects all of us, especially young people, children and low-income families.

The Farm Bill is a broad piece of legislation that is updated and renewed by Congress (a process known as “reauthorization”) every five years. It includes food and agriculture programs such as crop insurance and subsidies and rural development. It also includes the national Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Formerly known as “food stamps,” SNAP provides nutrition assistance to more than 40 million American’s each year. Nearly half of all SNAP program participants are children.

SNAP is our nation's most important anti-hunger program.

Historically, Farm Bills have been reauthorized with bipartisan support, thanks in part to the longtime urban-rural coalition of lawmakers and advocates who come together in support of SNAP and agriculture programs. At times, however, the reauthorization process becomes contentious.

This is one of those times. The version of the Farm Bill passed by the House Agriculture Committee on April 18, 2018, makes changes to SNAP that advocates for children and young people say will jeopardize critical nutrition programs and risk harming rural communities. Among those changes: cutting SNAP funding and imposing a new, stricter work requirement for participation in SNAP.  

The Impact of SNAP

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, is our nation’s most important anti-hunger program. It provides food to 40 million Americans each month. Close to half of all participants are children, and over half of all non-elderly, non-disabled adult participants live with children.

SNAP is now modernized with an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) system. The benefits on the EBT card can be used to purchase food at one of the 260,000 retailers authorized to participate in SNAP, such as grocery or convenience stores. SNAP cannot be used to purchase alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, vitamin supplements, hot foods, or non-food grocery items such as household supplies.

The current Farm Bill passed the House Agriculture Committee on a party-line vote. Among the provisions in the bill: expanding the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program (FINI) to provide $275 million over five years to help extend SNAP to farmers’ markets, and increasing funds for a pilot program to incentivize grocers to discount dairy and fresh produce. But the bill would also make it harder for many participants to access SNAP by imposing strict new work requirements.

SNAP already requires that able participants be working, looking for work, or engaging in job-related support services.  In more than half of SNAP households with at least one working-age, non-disabled adult, that adult is working. Work rates are even higher for families with children: more than 60 percent of participants with children work while receiving SNAP.

As the Farm Bill heads to the House of Representatives this week, here's what you need to know about how it affects children, low-income families and people of color:

  1. SNAP is the country’s most effective anti-hunger program, helping 1 in 8 Americans afford a basic diet. Despite providing modest benefits averaging about $1.40 per person per meal, it combats food insecurity, alleviates poverty, and has long-term positive impacts on health as well as on children’s educational attainment.

    In 2016, some 19 million children received SNAP each month, accounting for 44 percent of all SNAP participants.
  2. The Farm Bill would cut SNAP benefits for more than one million low-income households with more than 2 million people – particularly low-income working families with kids.
  3. Children and young people in working families would lose. The Farm Bill’s new proposals would re-impose a benefit “cliff” on families who receive a small increase in earnings. It would also implement strict work requirements, shorter “buffer” periods after losing a job, and a work test that would result in many families losing access to SNAP, even if they are working.

    Research shows that adults who received food stamps as young children are more likely to graduate from high school and less likely to suffer long-term health problems like obesity and heart disease.
  4. African American households are disproportionately affected by food insecurity: Nearly one-quarter, or 22.5 percent, were food-insecure in 2016—nearly double the national average of 12.3 percent and more than twice the 9.3 percent rate for white households.

    Food insecurity has well-documented negative effects on maternal and infant health.
  5. Assistance programs like SNAP (food stamps) and WIC (a specialized nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children) are both linked to positive health outcomes for women, especially African American women.

Take action here!


    Find out more about SNAP and the Farm Bill from these trusted experts:

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