Bread for the World Sunday          Bread for the World         23 December 2018    Fast Once A Month

Dept. of Agriculture Attempts to Circumvent Congress Proposes Rule That Would Put New Limits on SNAP

adapted from Andre Gobbo, FCNL                   December 20, 2018

On Dec. 20, just a few days after the House and Senate passed with overwhelming bipartisan support the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (H.R. 2), also known as the farm bill, USDA released a proposed rule change that would force 755,000 people to lose their “food stamp” (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, SNAP) benefits.

Currently, able-bodied adults who are not raising children are limited to three months of SNAP benefits over a three year period.  However, states can waive that strict time limit in periods and locations of high unemployment.  The proposed rule change would make it harder for states to get those waivers, preventing people from accessing much- needed food assistance because they’re unable to find or keep a job. The proposed rule would actually make it harder for people to find a job.  It also limits states’ flexibility, and it goes directly against Congress’s policy decisions in the just-passed farm bill.

The current waivers allow states to exempt people from the three month SNAP time limit if the unemployment rate rises above 10 percent. However, certain populations face higher-than-average rates of unemployment, most notably people of color and older Americans. Any adjustment to the current waiver system risks putting those who already face discrimination and barriers to employment into even more hardship.

Altering the waiver system also would prevent states from being able to respond to economic changes.  During the 2008-09 recession, the percent of the population receiving a waiver from the 3-month SNAP time limit increased drastically.  It has since slowly declined as the economy recovered. That ability to expand and contract to meet demand meant SNAP prevented millions of Americans from facing food insecurity.

The proposed new rule not only subjects more people to the already harsh time limits of current law, it also negates the intent established in the farm bill that Congress just passed.  After months of negotiations, the House and Senate agreed to a bipartisan bill that purposefully excluded implementing harsher time limits and reducing access to benefits. The proposed new rule directly contradicts that intent.  In the farm bill, members of Congress are clear that taking food away from people is no way to help them find work.

Rather than cutting poor people’s access to food, Congress should actually address barriers to employment, such as investing in affordable childcare, access to transportation, skills development, education, and job training.  Unfortunately, it is clear that the 2018 farm bill will not end some officials’ efforts to take away food, housing assistance, and health care from people struggling in this economy.  Members of Congress have spoken out to make the congressional intent clear — that draconian time limits make it harder, not easier, for people to find a well-paying job, and such measures do not belong in the farm bill.  That is important not just for the farm bill, but for establishing precedent as challenges to the proposed rule progress.  Once the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register, citizens are urged to submit a comment opposing the taking away of food from people struggling to find work.

Sample Letter

Sen. Todd Young    400 Russell Senate Off. Bldg.   Washington, DC  20510


Sen.-Elect Mike Braun      US Senate        Washington, DC  20510


Rep.-Elect Greg Pence  US House of Representatives  Washington, DC  20515



Rep.-Elect Pence, Sen. _____________:

I am writing to thank Sen. Young for your part in the passage of the 2018 farm bill that protects and strengthens the SNAP program which is so vital to the well-being of thousands of Hoosiers.

I also am writing with deep concern regarding the USDA’s announcement that they will seek to impose the administration’s harsh new work requirements on the SNAP program through rules and executive action, since they could not get the votes for them from Congress.  The proposed new rule flies in the face of both congressional intent and reality on the ground.  Older Americans and people of color face higher unemployment rates even in good times.  Eliminating states’ waivers on SNAP time limits will harm already-vulnerable people who are trying unsuccessfully to find work.  Bread for the World analysis shows that 755,000 Americans would lose SNAP benefits if the new rules are applied.

As the 116th Congress begins its work, I implore you to use every available legislative tool to protect the 2018 farm bill from the administration’s efforts to subvert congressional intent.  Please help Congress instead to actually reduce barriers to employment through support for affordable childcare, access to transportation, skills development, education, and relevant job training.  I am counting on you to help reduce hunger and poverty in our state, our nation, and the world.


Winchester Friends Church
Food Pantry Sunday / Bread for the World Sunday                October 21, 2018                 9:15 AM
Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen, to loose the chains of injustice…. to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?  Is it not to share your food with the hungry, and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter, and when you see the naked, to clothe them….?  If you do away with the yoke of oppression, the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness and your night will become like the noonday.  The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.
Isaiah 58:6-11
Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink?  When did we see You a stranger and invite You in, or needing clothes and clothe You?  When did we see You sick or in prison and go to visit You?  The King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of Mine, you did for Me.”
Matthew 25:37-40


TODAY IS BREAD FOR THE WORLD SUNDAY (following United Nations World Food Day last Tuesday October 16), when BFW (an ecumenical Christian advocacy organization) asks churches across the US to give special attention to the spiritual concern for people who do not have enough to eat.  Bread encourages congregations to make an “offering of letters” today to members of Congress to ask for compassionate public policy that helps lower hunger and poverty rates.  The Missions & Social Concerns Committee requests Friends to use the paper, envelope, and sample letter in today’s bulletin (see below) to write a brief letter to a Senator or Representative, address the envelope accordingly, and leave it in the “Offering of Letters” box in the parlor.  We’ll put a stamp on it and mail it for you on Monday.
TODAY IS ALSO OCTOBER’s COMMUNITY FOOD PANTRY SUNDAY when Friends are invited to donate a staple food item to help area families who struggle to afford adequate nutrition.  If you forgot but want to give, you may drop a dollar or two into the Quaker Oats tin on the southwest parlor table.


 For Such a Time As This (Esther 4:14)
Bread for the World 2018 Offering of Letters
Mother Teresa believed Jesus when he said everybody was priceless, even the ugly ones, even the smelly ones, and Mother Teresa changed the world by showing them that a human being can be selfless….. Can you imagine what Americans would do if they understood that over half the world was living in poverty?  ….If we believed the right things, the true things, there wouldn’t be very many problems on earth.  But the trouble with deep belief is that it costs something.  And there is something inside me, some selfish….  subtle thing that doesn’t like the truth at all because it carries responsibility, and if I actually believe these things, I have to do something about them.
–Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz
In the relationship between God and God’s people, it is clear that God not only cares for us, but cares how we treat one another. Throughout the Bible, we find examples of how God’s people promote the common good and speak up for what is right. In the book of Esther, for example, we find the story of an unlikely advocate — Queen Esther, who is persuaded to risk her own position of privilege to save her people from destruction.
From Leviticus and Deuteronomy to the Wisdom books; from the teachings of the prophets to the works and sermons of Jesus Christ — the Bible outlines measures for the nation’s leaders and individuals to provide for the most vulnerable members of the community to feed themselves. The choices made by our elected leaders on the federal budget determine how our nation generates revenue and invests shared resources. We show our commitment to the common good when we advocate for investments in programs that move people out of hunger and poverty, and into better opportunities in life.
God has blessed our nation with sufficient resources to make provision for all in our present time and in years to come.  Investments in domestic safety-net programs, such as WIC, SNAP, free and reduced-price school meals, and tax credits for low-income workers help people in the United States move out of poverty and feed their families. International programs like the global food security initiative, Feed the Future, and the McGovern-Dole school feeding program help millions of hungry people around the world.
Like Esther, we must meet the challenges before us and speak truth to power. Mordecai reminded Esther that she could not remain neutral. Action was needed, and she could use her position of influence to change the fate of her people. We cannot be silent in this challenging time. Together, we must urge Congress to develop a federal budget that serves the common good and offers help and opportunity for all people — especially those struggling to put food on the table.
Take Action    Right now, the biggest threat to people struggling with hunger and poverty continues to be the threat of large federal budget cuts. Your advocacy is critical in ensuring that spending bills provide the strongest support possible for anti-hunger and anti-poverty efforts in the United States and around the world.
We are raising our collective voice to ask Congress to invest in and protect key programs that help improve the lives of men, women, and children facing hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world.
Sample Letter
Sen. Joe Donnelly      720 Hart Senate Off. Bldg.       Washington, DC  20510
Sen. Todd Young      400 Russell Senate Off. Bldg.     Washington, DC  20510
Rep. Luke Messer      1230 Longworth HOB         Washington, DC  20515
Dear Sen. ________,  Rep. _______,
As Congress works on the fiscal year 2019 budget and spending bills, I ask you to invest in and protect key programs that will reduce hunger and poverty.
Unfortunately, the latest UN data shows that recent decades’  progress against hunger and poverty has stopped, and hunger has increased for the past three years. I urge you to continue to invest in programs like SNAP, WIC, school meals, tax credits for low-income workers, and other programs that reduce hunger and poverty here and globally.
My Christian faith calls me to implore you to make public investments that will move us and the world toward the end of hunger.
[your name, address, city, state, ZIP]
Lord, When I Am Hungry
Lord, when I am hungry, give me someone to feed.
When I am thirsty, give water for their thirst;
When I am sad, someone to lift from sorrow.
When burdens weigh upon me,
lay upon my shoulders the burden of my fellows.
Lord, when I stand greatly in need of tenderness,
give me someone who yearns for love.
May Your will be my bread, Your grace my strength,
Your love my resting place.