News and Commentary

More Than 3.8 Million People Drop Off Food Stamps Under President Trump

Under former president Barack Obama, enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the food-stamp program known as SNAP, hit all-time highs.

In 2013, more than 48 million Americans were enrolled in the program. When Obama took office in 2009, there were 33 million using food stamps. That’s an increase of more than 48%.

But all that has changed under President Trump. Enrollment in the program has dropped by 3,899,257, according to the latest data released by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The data covers up until November 2018.

That means SNAP enrollment is the lowest its been in a decade — since November 2009. SNAP costs U.S. taxpayers more than $5 billion a month, a whopping $60 billion a year.

Of course, no one should go hungry in America. But while the Democrats believe that handouts are the answer, Trump’s pursuing a whole ‘nother avenue to a solution: Jobs. Republicans (rightly) think that Americans would rather work for a living than get a free handout, and under Trump, the U.S. economy is providing millions of new jobs.

SNAP enrollment had begun falling in 2013, but not because Obama had done anything, experts say. When the numbers hit record highs, many state legislatures passed new laws that required food stamp recipients to make an effort — either to find a job, or to attend school or enroll in a job-training program.

But Trump has also added a new wrinkle to reducing the number of people on SNAP: His administration has proposed tightening eligibility requirements for legal immigrants and children of illegal aliens.

“A central theme of the Trump administration has been to expand prosperity for all Americans, which includes helping people lift themselves out of pervasive poverty,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in November, when new rules were proposed. Noting that the rules would save $15 billion over 10 years, Perdue said the changes would restore “the dignity of work to a sizable segment of our population, while it’s also respectful of the taxpayers who fund the program.”

A recent study showed that food stamp usage among people who recently immigrated to the United States in the past five years has dropped by 10%, even though the rules have not yet been passed.

“A new survey from the nonpartisan policy group Children’s HealthWatch found that … SNAP enrollment among immigrant families in the U.S. less than five years is down about 10 percent,” ABC News reported in November.

Some 9 million people who are legal immigrants — or who are children born in the U.S. to people who entered illegally — are in the SNAP program.

And in his 2018 proposed budget, Trump offered a novel idea: Instead of giving needy people stamps they can redeem for food, why not just give them actual food?

The program would be called “America’s Harvest Box.” Perdue called it “a bold, innovative approach to providing nutritious food to people who need assistance feeding themselves and their families — and all of it is home-grown by American farmers and producers.”

“The USDA believes that state governments will be able to deliver this food at much less cost than SNAP recipients currently pay for food at retail stores — thus reducing the overall cost of the SNAP program by $129 billion over the next 10 years,” NPR reported. “This and other changes in the SNAP program, according to the Trump administration, will reduce the SNAP budget by $213 billion over those years — cutting the program by almost 30 percent.”