CWDA Opposes Trump Administration’s Proposed Rule Change for SNAP Food Benefit Recipients
The proposal seeks to force thousands of California’s most vulnerable off the CalFresh program and will increase bureaucracy

Press release

SACRAMENTO –The proposal put forth today by the Trump Administration would end the streamlined process that California and dozens of other states have opted into, which allows us to deem low-income families that meet certain qualifications, such as CalWORKs participation, automatically eligible for CalFresh food assistance, also known as SNAP federally. The proposed rule change would impose an arduous process and asset test for low-income families and individuals, as well as county administrators, to determine eligibility for CalFresh food benefits.  The result would be more vulnerable families and individuals dropping off the CalFresh program even though they would have been deemed eligible for food assistance under today’s rules.

“The proposal creates more barriers for low-income families trying to make ends meet who really are eligible for these benefits,” argues Cathy Senderling-McDonald, CWDA deputy executive director. “It is clear that the goal of the Trump Administration’s proposal is to increase food insecurity for vulnerable families rather than save any funding, because it is sure to increase bureaucracy and costs to administer such an arduous process.”

The asset test is laborious for both clients and administrators and is likely to only find around one percent aren’t eligible for assistance; however, county health and human Services (HHS) agencies will have to process 100 percent of the eligibility applications under these bureaucratic requirements.

In 2008, CWDA was an ardent supporter of AB 433 (Beall) opting California into the streamlined application process, because our directors knew what an obstacle extra paperwork was for clients and how costly it was for already overburdened workers to process. Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger ultimately signed the bill to opt into the streamlined process, given the economic benefits of increased CalFresh users coupled with cutting bureaucracy and red tape.

This proposal also comes at a time when California is in the midst of the largest increase in California history of newly eligible CalFresh recipients. Specifically, state law was changed to make elderly and disabled Californians receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) eligible for CalFresh effective June 1, and County human services agencies are hard at work enrolling this influx of enrollees.  For years, our agencies have been coordinating with the state and key partners to increase CalFresh enrollment both on a policy level and in our community outreach.

“We are making headway to decrease food insecurity and lift people out of poverty, but the Administration seems determined to turn back that progress,” adds Senderling-McDonald. “This effort to harm low-income, working families and individuals who need and are eligible for these benefits, coupled with the tactics already being used by the Administration to intimidate immigrants to stop using services for which they are eligible, are just reprehensible.”