|SNAP Helps Millions →|
|Take Action to Protect SNAP →|
|Messaging Tips to Protect SNAP →|
Today, 45 million people in the US can afford to eat because of SNAP, a program that aims to alleviate hunger and malnutrition, and helps people stay out of poverty (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2016). These include families with children, which make up 7 out of 10 people who SNAP helps to feed (Econofact, 2017). Also, people who work — more than 80% of people using SNAP work in the year before or the year after receiving it, with even higher rates for families with children (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2013).
Currently, anyone who qualifies for SNAP can get access to food through the program (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2016). The federal government pays 100% of the cost of SNAP benefits, and splits the cost to administer the program with states (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2016). Funding for the program can increase or decrease as more or fewer people need coverage, such as during times of economic downturn or during disasters.
In 2015, SNAP helped people affected by wildfires in California, severe weather and tornadoes in Missouri, severe storms and flooding in South Carolina and Wyoming, and severe snow storms in Massachusetts — that kind of rapid response may change with Congressional Republicans’ proposals (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2016).
People who identify as liberals, conservatives, and moderates all use SNAP — and each group was as likely as the others to report using it (Pew Research Center, 2013).
Educate your community about potential health impacts of proposed changes to SNAP for your state — or more locally if you can access that data.
For example, using Kaiser Family Foundation and Center on Budget and Policy Priorities identify the number of people in your state covered by SNAP — describing available numbers of children, seniors, people living with disabilities, people just out of the reach of poverty, and people who work. Or cite info on SNAP use by Congressional district. Use local data and stories to highlight how undoing SNAP would undercut health for individuals and families.
Encourage your health department to speak publicly about proposed changes to SNAP.
Talk in your jurisdiction about proposed changes to SNAP, and use your platform at the health department to publicize the message.
Mobilize professional associations and advocates to take a position and provide them with data.
Work with professional associations like national, state, and local chapters of the American Public Health Association or the National Association of City and County Health Officials to communicate the impacts of the proposals. Provide local advocacy organizations with data, helping them understand how to request data from the health department as necessary, so they can make the case to protect SNAP.
Hold workshops for community members.
Host public workshops to help people understand SNAP and how changes may affect them.
Inform the public — repeatedly and often.
Write letters with health colleagues through professional organizations like the American Medical Association and American Public Health Association to inform people about how pending decisions would change health and equity. This brief can be a starting point.
Get proactive — call for strengthening SNAP.
Read the evidence, join the discussion, and look to partner with other groups or agencies in advocating to strengthen instead of dismantling SNAP. Put another choice on the table.
Start with values — for example, you can say:
“Access to nutritious, affordable food is a basic health need and human right.”
“Many people who work even more than full time — such as in food service, retail, and health care — are paid so little that they qualify for food assistance or SNAP. This may be the only way they can afford to feed themselves or their families.”
“Most of us agree on the basic principle that we all should be able to eat. All children should have food and people with disabilities, seniors, and people in great need should get food assistance that is essential to helping them live.”
“SNAP embodies these principles. And it works well.”
Here are some key points you can make about what SNAP looks like today: