The recently announced debt-ceiling agreement worsens the already punitive and counterproductive three-month time limit for SNAP, known in California as CalFresh. As currently structured, the deal will reduce access to CalFresh for over 100,000 Californians struggling to find work and put food on the table.
Anti-hunger advocates have long urged Congress to repeal the ineffective “work-reporting requirement” in SNAP, as extensive research has shown that this policy does not improve employment outcomes. Instead, the work-reporting requirement only serves to cut people off vital aid, increasing hunger, poverty, and risk for homelessness. Hunger does not help people in their search for work, it only adds an additional serious challenge.
Nourish California and our anti-hunger colleagues are deeply disappointed that the Biden Administration and Congress leaders included cuts to SNAP/CalFresh as part of the debt ceiling negotiations. This manufactured crisis should not be solved at the expense of people who need help to get back on their feet.
Doubling down on this cruel policy also perpetuates harmful stereotypes about people with low income rooted in historical and systemic racism. California’s leaders and representatives should protect critical nutrition programs and speak out immediately and forcefully in opposition to this deal that does not represent our state’s values of inclusion and empathy for all. We strongly urge the California delegation to stand up against the harm these cuts will have on people with low incomes that rely on these programs to survive.
We applaud our national partners for shedding light on the harmful impact the SNAP provisions in the debt ceiling agreement will have on people with low income. Read the statements here:
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Statement
Food Research and Action Center Statement
The three-month CalFresh time limit for unemployed, childless adults, also known as “able-bodied adults without dependents” (ABAWDs), is a federal law that was waived for many years due to high unemployment. Individuals considered to have ABAWD status may only receive CalFresh benefits for a total of three full months within a 36-month period unless the person meets an exemption or complies with certain harsh “work requirements.” The rule has not been shown to improve employment outcomes, only to cut people off from vital food assistance while they are struggling to find steady employment.