The Montana Food Bank Network works at the state and federal levels to support policies that bring sustainable, long-term solutions to hunger including policies to support the public nutrition programs and other anti-poverty programs and measures. Please share your voice by contacting your Legislators, adding your name to sign-on letters, or sharing your story! To learn more, visit our Become an Advocate page.
State Level –
Our 2017 State Session is underway! MFBN is following numerous bills that impact hunger in our state including the creation of a state-level Earned Income Tax Credit and the creation of a paid family and medical leave insurance program. We urge our legislators to support policies like these that address the root causes of hunger in our state and oppose bills that will cut or limit access to SNAP or other assistance programs.
Urge House Committee to Oppose Bill to Limit SNAP Eligibility
HB 361, sponsored by Rep. Tom Burnett, seeks to further restrict the already stringent eligibility requirements for SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Help us urge the House Human Services Committee to oppose this legislation.
As the cost of living continues to rise while incomes remain low, SNAP is helping 57,000 Montana households afford the food they need to feed their families. HB 361 would make it harder for struggling families to qualify for SNAP, cutting people off of the program and making the application process more burdensome for both applicants and caseworkers.
As allowed under federal law, Montana’s Gross Income Test for SNAP eligibility is set at 200% of poverty and there is no resource limit for most households*. All households must still meet the stringent Net Income Limit of 100% of poverty. HB 361 would reduce Montana’s Gross Income Test to just 130% of poverty (an income of $2630 per month for a family of four) and create a resource limit of $5,000.
- Reducing the gross income limit primarily harms working families with children and families with high housing expenses – households whose incomes may be slightly higher than 130% of poverty but are also struggling with child care and housing costs.
- Resource limits actually make it harder for families to regain self-sufficiency, and can be particularly harmful for seniors. Numerous studies have demonstrated that having savings and other resources is critical for families trying to get back on their feet. Building assets helps low-income families invest in their future and avert a financial crisis that can push them deeper into poverty.
- Resource limits discourage families from saving because of fear that having even a modest amount of money in a bank account could make them ineligible for SNAP.
- Resource limits create additional burden for both clients and caseworkers, increasing the risk of administrative error and increasing the risk of households failing to complete the application process or falling off the program at recertification – not because of ineligibility but because of the excessive and unnecessary administrative requirements.
*Households with a member previously disqualified from the program for an intentional program violation must meet a lower income limit and are subject to a resource test.
The House Human Services committee will be hearing HB 361 on Monday, February 20th at 3:00pm. Please urge the committee to oppose this bill.
- You can call the general switchboard at (406) 444-4800. Request to leave a message for the House Human Services Committee or for your individual legislator if he or she sits on the committee. Not sure who your legislators are? Search by address here.
- Or email using the online message form. You can direct the email to the entire committee (select the committee name from the drop down menu) or your individual legislator if if he or she is on the committee.
- Would you like to testify at the hearing? We are happy to help you draft your message, or take written testimony on your behalf. Contact Lorianne at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sample message: Hello, this message is for the House Human Services Committee. This is (your name), calling from (town). I am (add something about who you are and why you care – do you represent an organization that serves SNAP families, are you a SNAP recipient, a concerned Montanan, a teacher, a business owner, a dietician, etc.) I urge you to oppose House Bill 361, restricting SNAP eligibility. SNAP income guidelines effectively target the program to those who need it most. Further restricting the limits will push families off of the program, worsening hunger in our state. In addition, the proposed resource limit would hurt families and seniors with modest resources. Having savings or other resources is critical for families trying to get back on their feet. Please oppose these cuts to SNAP by voting against HB 361.
Thank you for your support and involvement! Your calls and emails truly do make a difference!
Contact Lorianne for more information, email@example.com, (406) 215-1773.
Federal Level –
This year, Congress will be reauthorizing the Farm Bill, which includes policy for SNAP as well as many agriculture programs. We urge our Congressional leaders to protect and strengthen SNAP, as we begin the reauthorization process.
Urge Montana’s Congressional leaders to support SNAP and the other public food programs.
- Senator Daines: (202) 224-2651, email at http://www.daines.senate.gov/connect/email-steve
- Senator Tester: (202) 224-2644, email at https://www.tester.senate.gov/?p=email_senator
- Congressman Zinke: (202) 225-3211, email at https://zinke.house.gov/contact/email
Stay up-to-date by signing up for Action Alerts and our Policy Enewsletter on our Become an Advocate page.