Panetta presses USDA to back off CalFresh

CA Congressional delegation sends letter to Perdue

Jimmy Panetta. File Photo

Congressman Jimmy Panetta on July 26 led his Democratic colleagues from the California Congressional delegation in urging US Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to rescind a proposed rule to eliminate broad-based categorical eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also referred to as CalFresh in California.
“California has relied on categorical eligibility to eliminate the asset test for CalFresh, the state’s program that administers SNAP benefits,” the delegation wrote to Perdue. “Without the asset test, low-income working families in California are able to save money and move toward self-sufficiency without worrying that they will lose their SNAP eligibility. These modest assets allow low-income households to avoid debt and be prepared should they face an unexpected financial disruption.
“As members of Congress committed to an effective federal nutrition assistance program, we worked hard to pass a bipartisan Farm Bill that maintained states’ ability to opt into broad-based categorical eligibility,” Panetta and his colleagues wrote. “We urge you to take into consideration the harmful effects of this proposed rule and act quickly to rescind it.”
Panetta’s 20th District includes all of San Benito County and part of Gilroy.
The Democratic members of Congress also said they are concerned about the impacts of Perdue’s proposal on the nation’s school meals program. The plan “would put tens of thousands of children across the country at risk of losing free school meals,” they wrote. “ The proposed rule would therefore substantially threaten crucial and cost-effective programs that help students find success in school and in life.”
Categorical eligibility for SNAP has been an option used successfully by states for 20 years, and in that time, more than 40 states have adopted it to make SNAP more responsive to the needs of households, particularly working families. Also, within that time, Congress has had the opportunity to review the policy and has rejected proposals to change or repeal it.

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