House Ag finishes SNAP hearings as Democrats express concern about future | TSLN.com

House Ag finishes SNAP hearings as Democrats express concern about future

The House Agriculture Committee on Wednesday held the 16th and last of its hearings on the future of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as SNAP or food stamps, while Democratic leaders expressed concerns about what will happen to the program under President-elect Donald Trump and a Republican-run Congress.

ConawayMichael R-Texas2015

Rep. Michael Conaway, R-Texas

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, announced he would release a comprehensive report on the findings of the hearings "in the coming weeks."

Conaway said he is open to a single 2018 farm bill covering both farm and nutrition programs or to separate bills, as the House did in 2014 before putting them back together to send a single bill to the Senate, Politico reported.

House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said in an opening statement, "We've covered a lot of issues but the overwhelming theme of the testimony has shown us that while there are some areas for improvement, SNAP works."

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"We've also heard testimony opposing efforts to block grant SNAP and on the importance of keeping SNAP within the farm bill. I hope we can keep these themes in mind as we start work on the farm bill next year," Peterson said.

House Agriculture Nutrition Subcommittee ranking member Jim McGovern, D-Mass., also said that "SNAP is working as intended."

"Not once have we heard from our witnesses that block granting SNAP will reduce hunger or strengthen this program," McGovern said. "In fact, we've heard the opposite. And if we want to talk about improving access to food, we should be discussing ways to increase SNAP benefits. If anything, the average benefit of $1.40 per person, per meal is too low."

But McGovern added, "I have no idea what a Trump administration coupled with a Republican Congress means for the future of SNAP and other safety net programs."

"If next year, the Republican leadership wants to block-grant or cut the program or put more hurdles in place to deny people a benefit to put food on their table — be prepared for one hell of a fight," he said. "Because this is a fight worth having."

Wednesday's hearing focused on access to food and included testimony about delivery of food to people's homes.

Conaway noted that there has been a lot of discussion of food deserts at previous hearings.

In a statement after the hearing he said. "Communities across the country have different needs when it comes to food access. Some individuals have access to a grocer on every street corner, while others are miles away from the nearest store."

"However, consumers nationwide are able to purchase a variety of items online that can be delivered directly to their homes, and I am excited to hear how this technology can be used to provide SNAP recipients the same sort of access to nutritious food," Conaway said.

"This capability, along with other innovations like mobile markets and nutrition incentive programs, have great potential to increase access to healthy foods and to more effectively meet the needs of SNAP recipients."

–The Hagstrom Report

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