Gleaners Food Bank Statement Regarding SNAP Rule Changes

On the occasion of USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue’s visit to Indianapolis, Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana offers the following statement regarding USDA funding of hunger relief efforts, including the recent SNAP rule changes. The statement may be attributed to John Elliott, President/CEO.

“Last week, the Trump administration instituted new rules restricting the ability of a state to waive work requirements for a certain population of SNAP recipients. While not immediately impacting Hoosiers, Gleaners is concerned that the ability of our state government to nimbly respond to localized unemployment spikes, such as those seen in recent years with the RV manufacturing industry in Elkhart, will be negatively affected by these changes. This USDA rule change comes as a substantial percent of Hoosier households who are eligible for SNAP benefits are not even enrolled. The program is underutilized.

All four federal hunger relief programs included in the USDA budget are important and we must consider the scale and impact of all government, private and charity sector programs in context. In total, SNAP, the Women Infants and Children (WIC) program, The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and school lunch program provide 83 percent of meals for food insecure Hoosiers. Despite distributing a record 42.5 million pounds of increasingly nutritious food last year, Gleaners, as the largest hunger relief charity in Indiana, accounts for less than 10% of the total in our service area.

Gleaners greatly appreciates the ongoing support of the USDA in funding increased distribution of food through TEFAP and an understanding of the increased funding needs for food banks as we work to distribute this additional food. Last week’s approval of expense funding, and specifically per truckload expense offsets, is critically important. While TEFAP food is among the highest quality food we receive and is provided at no costs, Gleaners then needs to seek unrestricted donations to cover the facility, fleet, personnel and other costs associated with TEFAP food distribution across 21 counties. With this latest USDA funding approval, nearly half those costs will be covered.

Our concern with the USDA announcement on SNAP eligibility is that these two policy and funding initiatives are incongruent. Local management and administration of federal funds recognizes the states as best positioned to respond to immediate and unique local needs of their citizens. We encourage the Administration to reevaluate this SNAP rule change.”