January 7, 2020

Ask Your Congressional Representatives to oppose cutting SNAP benefit levels

Proposed changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) would hit Northeast Ohio families particularly hard, according to statistics from the Center for Community Solutions (CCS).

CCS found 41 percent of the state’s SNAP recipients would be affected by a federal proposal to remove states’ ability to calculate benefits based on local utility costs.

Reducing the Standard Utility Allowance (SUA) starting this year could cost Cuyahoga County $21 million and Cleveland $13 million annually. That breaks down to a loss of about $45 a month for each SNAP recipient. The average monthly benefit for Ohioans is currently $126.

States currently calculate SNAP benefits in part by using localized utility costs, but the new federal rule would shift to a standardized deduction. The SUA is part of the excess shelter deduction that is used to determine the net income of households applying for SNAP. This amount is then used to determine eligibility for the program and the household’s exact benefit amount.

Please urge Ohio Senators Brown and Portman and your representative in the U.S. House to oppose the proposed rule because it threatens the financial and physical well-being of low-income families and individuals, fails to justify adequately its proposed Heating and Cooling SUA (HCSUA) rates, and undermines SNAP’s statutory purpose, congressional intent and state flexibility.

Nationally, the proposed rule would result in a $4.5 billion cut in SNAP benefits over 5 years. Seven million people in 3 million households—representing 19 percent of SNAP households nationwide—would experience a benefit cut. Among those experiencing a cut:

  • 68% are households with children
  • 20% are households that include an elderly individual
  • 29% are households that include an individual with a disability

This is the third administrative rule from FNS in 2019 alone that would cut SNAP benefits. Each proposal was considered and rejected by Congress in the bi-partisan 2018 Farm Bill.

We join with Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the National Council of the United States Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP USA) and the Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA) in opposing this proposed rule.

Please urge Ohio Senators Brown and Portman and your representative in the U.S. House to oppose the proposed rule. A sample letter is available here on e-Advocacy.

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From its Cleveland headquarters, the Sisters of Charity Health System provides oversight, leadership and strategic direction to more than 20 organizations responding to community needs in Canton and Cleveland, Ohio, and South Carolina.

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