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How Will Tightening Eligibility Standards For Food Stamps Affect Californians?

A sign in the window of a market advertising the acceptance of food stamps.
A sign in the window of a market advertising the acceptance of food stamps.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a new proposal that would change SNAP eligibility requirements -- and some argue that it may have an outsized impact on Californians. 

About 3.1 million people would lose food stamp benefits under the Trump administration’s proposal to tighten automatic eligibility requirements for the food stamp program.

The Agriculture Department said Tuesday that the rule would close “a loophole” that enables people receiving only minimal benefits from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to be eligible automatically for food stamps without undergoing further checks on their income or assets.

The proposed rule is the latest in the Trump administration’s efforts to cut back on the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program or SNAP, the official name of the food stamp program. It also has proposed to tighten work requirements for those who receive federal food assistance.

Some critics are arguing that people in California are especially disadvantaged by this proposed change because of our higher minimum wage and the higher cost of living in the state. 

We discuss the pros and cons of the proposed change, as well as its impact on Californians.  

With files from the Associated Press. 

We invited the USDA to participate in our conversation. They decline our request but a USDA spokesman sent the following statement: 

“The proposed rule does not in any way modify the school meals eligibility standards Congress has provided in statute. All children who qualify for school meals under the standards Congress provided would continue to receive free or reduced price meals based on those respective standards. It is Congress’ job to write those eligibility standards and USDA’s job to ensure they are carried out with integrity. Instead, this rule ensures SNAP benefits go to those who meet the eligibility criteria as outlined by Congress, not millionaires or those who simply received a referral to a non-working 800 number. 


Angela Rachidi, research fellow in poverty studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) whose expertise includes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programs

Jessica Bartholow, policy advocate for the LA-based Western Center on Law and Poverty, an advocacy organization for low income Californians; chair of the California Asset Building Coalition, a non-profit that aims to help Californians achieve economic self-sufficiency