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Congresswoman McCollum's Statement on the Minnesota Listening Session on the Cuts to Food Assistance in House GOP Farm Bill

July 10, 2013
Statements For the Record

Mr. Speaker, on June 10, 2013, Congressman Ellison and I hosted a listening session at the Minnesota State Capitol. We heard from Minnesotans affected by the House Farm Bill’s proposed cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Below is testimony delivered by Dale Simonson and Patricia Lull.

Testimony from Dale Simonson, Minnesota Department of Human Services

Here is a brief overview of the demographics of the SNAP recipients statewide.  There are about 554,000 adults and children on SNAP in approximately 259,700 cases. Children make up almost 48% of the SNAP population. 

There are 77,417 SNAP family cases. 

  • 66% of the family cases reported income from work  
  • Average age of adults with children is 35 years

There are 39,671 senior cases on SNAP.

  • Average age is 70 years
  • 61% had income from Retirement, Survivors Disabilities Insurance (RSDI)

There are 88,942 disabled cases on SNAP.

There are 62,477 cases that are categorized as “other” adults.

  • Within this category are able bodied adults without dependents ( ABAWDs) 
  • These people are disconnected from employment compared to other SNAP participants as 56% have no other reported income sources than SNAP.

The average benefit per recipient is $118 and per case is $245.

Race/ethnicity demographics of SNAP cases are 59% white, 24% black, 7% Asian, 4% Hispanic, 4% American Indian  with multiple races comprising the rest.

That is a very brief overview of the SNAP population in MN.  The data being used today comes from the Characteristics of People and Cases on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in December 2012 as well as the Family Self-Sufficiency Report. Both of these reports are available on the DHS public website.

The biggest impact on SNAP recipients in MN would come from the proposed restriction in the House bill on the state ability to use categorical eligibility.

Broad based categorical eligibility is a policy that makes most households categorically eligible for SNAP because they qualify for a non-cash TANF funded benefit. This allows states to raise the income limit up to a maximum of 200% Federal Poverty Guideline (FPG) and raise or eliminate the asset limit. 

The MN legislature passed a bill effective Nov., 2010 allowing expansion of broad based categorical eligibility to all SNAP cases by increasing the income standard from 130% to 165% of FPG and eliminating the asset limit.

Sec. 4005 of the House bill would remove this state option.

DHS estimates that 6.4% of the caseload or 16,700 cases with over 32,000 people would be made ineligible because their income is above 130% FPG yet below 165% FPG. Of these cases, over 8,000 are family cases that will be ineligible due to over income. The children on these cases would no longer be automatically eligible for free or reduced school lunch.

DHS no longer collects asset information for SNAP. Therefore, we do not have data on the number of cases that would be ineligible due to being over the asset limit.

The House bill provides a permanent reduction in funding for SNAP-Ed. This proposed cut comes on the heels of the program’s fiscal year 2013 budget cut of 28 percent that was included in the fiscal cliff agreement, resulting in decreased program activity.

  • Minnesota’s share of SNAP-Ed has been approximately 2.5% of the federal allocation. 
  • Minnesota’s current allocation for SNAP-Ed is about $7,000,000 (cut included). 
  • Further cuts will impact the reach and impact that SNAP-Ed has on Minnesota’s population in poverty.

SNAP-Ed is delivered by community nutrition educators from the University of Minnesota Extension Service and Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. They use evidence-based, behaviorally-focused curriculum to help Minnesotans with limited financial resources stretch food dollars and make healthy choices.

In FY 2012, the U of M Extension offered SNAP-Ed programming in 84 of 87 counties directly serving approximately 65,000 persons (unduplicated).

In FY 2012, the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe offered SNAP-Ed programming on six reservations (Bois Forte, Fond du Lac, Grand Portage, Leech Lake, Mille Lacs, and White Earth) directly serving 6,778 persons (unduplicated).

U of M Extension program evaluation outcomes point to positive SNAP-Ed results. Over half of SNAP-Ed participants engaged in healthy eating and physical activity behaviors by the final course session. In addition, participants indicated an average of greater than 1/3 cup increased intake of both fruits and vegetables per day over the span of a course.

These are the two major provisions that will have the greatest impact on low income Minnesotans on SNAP if these cuts are adopted.

Thank you for your time.

Testimony Submitted by Patricia Lull, Executive Director of the Saint Paul Area Council of Churches

Thank you for this opportunity to address the difference that SNAP benefits make in our community.

I serve as Executive Director of the Saint Paul Area Council of Churches, a non-profit representing 125 local communities of faith. We come from Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Unitarian, and Quaker backgrounds but every one of our faith traditions agrees with this conviction – No more hungry neighbors!

I am here to say that as a person of faith and a citizen. No more hungry neighbors! In recent years we have made great strides in addressing domestic hunger and SNAP has been an important part of what we have done well as a country. It serves our most vulnerable neighbors – children, seniors, and working families. It serves them in a way that supports local economies (grocery stores and farmers markets) and energizes our children to succeed in school and in life.

While it is important to balance our federal budget, cutting SNAP benefits to our most vulnerable neighbors should be the last option we exercise. The proposed cuts will negatively impact all of us who work with families in poverty. Let me illustrate that.

The Saint Paul Area Council of Churches hosts an emergency food shelf for the American Indian community in Ramsey County. We provide food to 500 individuals a month – enough for 6,000 meals. Use of our food shelf has increased by 30% since last August. More families. More need. More demand on us to do what all of us as citizens are asked to do – provide for those who are most at risk.

Some of our food shelf participants are also volunteers. A couple of months ago, Larry and I worked side-by-side unloading a delivery from Second Harvest, our food bank. Larry is a father and grand-father. He is also a hard worker, carrying in three times as many boxes as I did. When the truck was unloaded and all the food was put away, I thanked him for all he had done. Larry looked me squarely in the eye, pointed to his heart, and said – I do this for the community.

Those who receive SNAP benefits – and those who will be excluded from benefits if cuts are made – they are our community, too. On behalf of them I say, No more hungry neighbors!