I am a person of the Jewish faith and a retired licensed clinical social worker, so I know the facts about how families and children will be affected if the Trump administration takes food stamps away from working families.
I also grew up on welfare and, for a period of time, food stamps were the only way my mother, sister and I survived.
So here is what changes in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP, will do:
• It will prevent states from using broad-based categorical eligibility and so will deny all SNAP assistance to more than 3 million people.
• Once implemented, the new rule would not allow poor people to build savings and plan for their future because any time they build up more than $2,250 in savings — or up to $3,500 for households with elderly or people with disabilities — they will lose their SNAP benefits.
This rule as proposed is counterproductive. Allowing people to stay on SNAP while working allows them to focus on being successful, as my family was able to be when I was a child. Removing these families from the SNAP program will force families to worry every day about how they will pay for food. This worry is counterproductive to enabling families to succeed.
• There is a large body of research that has found that children in households receiving SNAP are more likely to be in poor health and/or to suffer anemia than children who do not receive SNAP. So children in the SNAP program whose families could not always afford food were less likely to be hospitalized due to SNAP.
• Young children in families whose SNAP benefits were recently lost or reduced due to an increase in income were more likely to be in "fair or poor health" and "at risk" for developmental delays, compared to children in families who did not lose SNAP benefits.
• The U.S. Department of Agriculture has estimated that 500,000 children will lose free school meals when their family loses SNAP benefits. The USDA should not be in the business of inflicting harm on children by reducing their access to nutritious food.
• Children's health will likely suffer and, in turn, increase the risk that they will fall behind in school.
• Children with health problems, combined with poor school performance, will find it harder to raise themselves out of poverty when they become adults, like my mother, sister and I have been fortunate to have done.
For so many reasons, Christian and Judaism teachings from the Bible require us "to be our brothers' keepers."
It's therefore unacceptable to take food away from working families, children, seniors and people with disabilities.
Robert N. Renard is a Hillsboro resident.
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