Gov. Jay Inslee and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer — along with a coalition of governors from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue voicing opposition to the USDA’s proposal to essentially eliminate Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility (BBCE) from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). According to the USDA’s own analysis, many of those impacted would be among the most vulnerable in our states, including individuals with disabilities and the elderly. The USDA’s proposal also jeopardizes access to free and reduced price meals at school for an estimated 500,000 low-income children.
Estimates show that the elimination of BBCE would result in 175,600 individuals in Washington state losing food assistance, including 19,263 children under 5 years old, 46,839 school aged children, and 15,838 elderly individuals. In Michigan, 85,446 adults and 58,743 children would lose access to basic food. Overall, it is expected that more than 3 million Americans nationwide will lose benefits.
“This misguided and harmful policy would severely restrict access to food assistance for those who need it most, exacerbating hunger and making it even more difficult for people experiencing poverty to find work. It removes state flexibility, rips away food assistance from millions of vulnerable Americans and fails to achieve the Trump administration’s stated goals of improving self-sufficiency,” Inslee said. “No one should go hungry in America, particularly children. I stand with other governors from all over the country in opposing this cruel and mean-spirited proposal.”
“If we want to lift people out of poverty and grow our economy, we must work together to ensure they have the support they need, not make deep cuts that make it harder for them to provide for their families and save for the future,” Whitmer said. “We’re joining together to fight back against this attack on low-income Americans to protect access to healthy food for hundreds of thousands of low-income families, children, people with disabilities, the elderly, farmers and food producers. It's time for the President and Secretary Perdue to do the right thing and rescind this proposal on behalf of hardworking families everywhere.”
BBCE is a policy that requires states to enroll eligible applicant households in SNAP for food assistance if they’re already qualified for other benefits limited to low-income people, most notably Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). States utilize BBCE to adopt less restrictive income and asset tests and to better coordinate SNAP with other state-operated programs. The result has been an increase in low-income households getting access to the food assistance they need, while also making SNAP easier and less costly for states to administer.
Read the full letter.