Monday Numbers: How a Trump administration rule change threatens food stamp access in NC

By: - September 16, 2019 6:30 am

If there is a strategy to President Trump’s administration – and really, who knows if there is? – it may be a kind of sleight of hand. 

Take the immense stakes for North Carolina and many states in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s consideration of a rule change that threatens access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as “food stamps.” 

You’d be forgiven for not knowing it’s in the works, or that the public comment period on the miserly rule ends Sept. 23. 

It is part of the problem when you have a president whose regular provocations grab more attention than the pernicious rulemaking behind the scenes. 

The proposal emerged in July, and would change the way individuals qualify for SNAP. People can currently qualify without meeting federal income and asset tests if they receive benefits from the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, but the new rules jeopardize those benefits for millions. 

The rule would have a particularly pronounced effect on elderly recipients and families with earnings, although it could block benefits for families with children, individuals with disabilities and families living in poverty.

Comment on the proposed rule change here.

Here’s a breakdown of how the changes are estimated to impact families in the U.S. and in North Carolina: 

21.5 million – Number of SNAP households in the U.S.

1.9 million – Estimated number of households that would lose those benefits under the new USDA rule.

3.1 million – Estimated number of people that would lose their benefits.

9 percent – Percentage of estimated SNAP households that would lose benefits.

79,260 – Households in N.C. that could lose benefits.

11 percent – Percentage of N.C. SNAP households that could lose benefits. 

5 percent – Lost percentage of total SNAP benefits in N.C. under the new rule.

13 percent – Percentage of SNAP households with earnings that could lose benefits.

13 percent – Percentage of SNAP households with elderly recipients that could lose benefits.

4 percent – Percentage of SNAP households in poverty that could lose benefits.

7 percent – Percentage of SNAP households with children that could lose benefits.

4 percent – Percentage of SNAP households with an individual with disabilities that could lose benefits.

604,000 – Number of N.C. households that don’t have enough to eat under current law.

24.6 percent – Number of NC children who face hunger on a regular basis currently.

Sources: U.S. News & World Report, Mathematica, Inter-Faith Food Shuttle

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Billy Ball

Billy Ball, worked at NC Policy Watch from 2016 to 2020 — first as an education reporter and later as managing editor.