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Paul Specht
By Paul Specht December 3, 2019

NC Democrat mostly right about Trump's proposed cuts to SNAP

Over Thanksgiving week, a North Carolina Democrat drew attention to a Trump Administration proposal that would cut the number of people who receive public funding for food.

U.S. Rep. Alma Adams, a Democrat representing the Charlotte area, tweeted on Nov. 26 about the administration’s proposal for cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP.

"The President wants to cut 3 MILLION people from #SNAP, including children, seniors and veterans," Adams tweeted. "This is unacceptable. SNAP is the first line of defense against hunger and I stand with @TheBlackCaucus to protect America’s most vulnerable: our children. #1MillionKids."

Is it true that the Trump administration is proposing to cut 3 million people from the SNAP program? Does that proposal include children, seniors and veterans?"

There are multiple proposed changes to the SNAP program, The SNAP program provides "nutritional assistance" to people who are low-income or disabled. 

Adams referred to proposed changes to "categorical eligibility." And, as it turns out, the Adams’ claim is mostly on-point.

3 million

The proposed change to "categorical eligibility" rules would affect 3.1 million people currently receiving those benefits, according to the USDA’s own estimates.

SNAP currently allows states to grant categorical eligibility to people who are already on other social programs. The USDA believes some those people wouldn’t qualify otherwise. 

"As a result, some households can qualify when they would not under regular programs rules," the department wrote in a fact sheet.

The Trump administration sees this change as closing a loophole allowing some to abuse a program that’s intended to be a "temporary safety net," NPR reported.

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Who’s affected?

We reached out to the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service department for insight on how many SNAP participants might be affected by the proposed change.

An estimated 673,000 households with seniors and 597,000 households with children are projected to lose benefits, the USDA’s communications office told us in an email.

As for military veterans, the number is a little less clear. We reached out to the USDA and other groups that track SNAP beneficiaries, but struggled to find a specific number of veterans that might be affected. 

Veterans not tracked

"USDA does not have data to determine the specific impacts of the rule on households with veterans, as veteran status does not impact eligibility and therefore is not captured in the caseload data used to analyze the rule," the USDA told us.

But it’s possible veterans would be affected. 

About 40 million people participate in the SNAP program. About 1.4 million veterans live in participating SNAP households, according to a 2018 study by the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The center analyzed data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau and estimated SNAP is currently assisting 55,000 veterans in North Carolina.

Rebecca Vallas, a senior fellow at the left-leaning Center for American Progress, believes it’s "more than fair to conclude" veterans would be affected. She believes Adams is on "strong footing."

Our ruling

Adams said President Trump "wants to cut 3 million people from SNAP, including children, seniors and veterans." It’s true that his administration’s proposal would affect 3 million people, including children and seniors.

Veterans also receive SNAP benefits, but we don’t know how many veterans would be directly affected. Given that uncertainty, we believe Adams’  statement is accurate but needs clarification or additional information. So we rate it Mostly True.

Our Sources

A tweet by U.S. Rep. Alma Adams, a Democrat who represents the Charlotte area.

Email correspondence with Meagan Holland, spokeswoman for Congresswoman Alma Adams.

Email correspondence with Tony Craddock Jr., public affairs specialist for the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service.

Email correspondence with Rebecca Vallas, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

Press release by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, "USDA proposes to close SNAP automatic eligibility loophole," and a fact sheet posted July 23, 2019.

Stories by NPR, "Comment period ends for proposal that would cut SNAP benefits for millions," posted Nov. 1, 2019; "3 million could lose food stamp benefits under Trump administration proposal," posted July 23, 2019.

Story by NBC News, "Food stamp changes would mainly hurt those living in extreme poverty, study finds," posted March 14, 2019.

Story by Vox, "The Trump administration is kicking 3.1 million people off food stamps," posted July 24, 2019.

Study by the Urban Institute, "Estimated effect of recent proposed changes to SNAP regulations," posted November 25, 2019.

Study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, "SNAP Helps Almost 1.4 Million Low-Income Veterans, Including Thousands in Every State," updated Nov. 8, 2018.

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NC Democrat mostly right about Trump's proposed cuts to SNAP

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