USDA Withdraws Harmful Proposed Rule to Restrict SNAP Categorical Eligibility


Published on Jun 11, 2021 in CalFresh, Federal Advocacy

Struggling to make ends meet:

Food Insecurity In California


Published on Jun 11, 2021 in CalFresh, Federal Advocacy

On June 9, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) officially withdrew a harmful proposed rule that would have cut millions of Americans off SNAP (CalFresh in California) and could have caused hundreds of thousands of students to lose access to free school meals. The rule was one of three proposed during the Trump administration to reduce access to SNAP through regulatory changes. 

This proposal, issued in 2019, would have restricted states’ ability to use broad-based categorical eligibility to help low-wage working families, seniors, and people with disabilities qualify for SNAP benefits. Categorical eligibility enables states to eliminate the asset test and adopt a higher gross income test, allowing more working households with significant deductible expenses, like housing and child care, to qualify for food assistance. This is a crucial option to help low-income households in California, where the official poverty measure does not accurately reflect the true costs of meeting a household’s basic needs.

During the public comment period, Nourish California and our anti-hunger partners and allies  led a campaign to encourage the public to submit comments in opposition to the proposal. USDA attributes the decision to withdraw the proposal to the high number and quality of public comments submitted opposing the rule. The comments provided substantial evidence on the potential harm, which helped the department determine that the proposal to revise categorical eligibility policy should not be finalized. We are deeply grateful to our partners and supporters for mobilizing in defense of SNAP/CalFresh access.

“The Department has determined that the proposed revisions did not sufficiently justify the impact on the estimated 1.7 million SNAP households that would have lost eligibility under the rule and did not adequately mitigate the disproportionate impact the rule would have had on households with an elderly member. Additionally, the Department has determined that the proposed changes and concerns raised regarding program integrity were not adequately supported by data and do not justify the costs to state agencies of implementing the change.”


Nourish California thanks our anti-hunger partners and network of supporters for your advocacy in opposition to the misguided and harmful rule. We are pleased to see this threat to food security and the SNAP program eliminated, and will continue working with USDA and the Biden administration to strengthen and protect SNAP-our most effective anti-hunger program.

Questions? Contact Gabby Tilley at .

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