The State Senate's recent budget proposal includes a provision that threatens to cut food assistance for tens of thousands of children in North Carolina.
In an email, Republican State Senator Ralph Hise said the provision closes a loophole in the SNAP program that allowed people to qualify who wouldn’t otherwise be eligible.
“This provision closes a loophole that ballooned under the Obama administration allowing people to qualify for food stamps even if they wouldn’t otherwise be eligible because they have valuable assets or savings in the bank,” Hise said in a statement. “The purpose of the change is to ensure benefits are delivered to those who are truly in need of them.”
The proposal would cut food benefits to 50,000 children across the state, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.
The department estimates affected kids total more than 4,500 in Wake County, more than 3,000 in Guilford County and 2,000 in Durham.
The proposal has its critics, including Rob Thompson, senior policy adviser for the advocacy group NC Child.
“[SNAP benefits] play an important role in ensuring that kids get the nutrition that they need to stay healthy and to be successful in school,” said Thompson.
SNAP eligibility also allows low-income kids to receive free and reduced price lunch at school. The number of households receiving SNAP benefits was expanded after the recession. This provision targets those expanded demographics.
“We're going to see a lot of kids lose the foundation of a lot of … their food, and when that happens, that jeopardizes their health, and it jeopardizes their school performance,” Thompson said. “And it's really a shame because there's no need for this to happen.”
SNAP is entirely paid for by the federal government, so the provision does not save money for the state. The North Carolina House will submit its own budget proposal before the legislature sends its budget to the governor for approval.