Last month, the federal government passed the debt ceiling bill, increasing the nation’s borrowing limit. (this article, written before the bill passed, explains the debt ceiling and why a vote is needed to raise it.) While many applaud the government for reaching a bipartisan agreement before the deadline, the bill changes work requirements for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) participants, increasing the age of those needing to show proof of work from ages 18-49 to 18-54.
We at PRISM are furious they used food as a bargaining chip. Food is the most fundamental basic need. Removing access to food is unethical and hurts the individuals, communities they live in, businesses, and collective faith in the ethics and ability of our government.
This also targets some of our most vulnerable community members. The expectation that older adults who live in poverty are physically and mentally healthy enough to work later in life is incongruent with what we know about the impacts of aging. Underresourced individuals experience more health problems sooner than those with sufficient resources. We must address why people can’t work rather than punish those with barriers.
Withholding food is not a motivator to work. In addition to being inhumane, increasing hunger further exacerbates an inability to participate in the workforce fully.
Moreover, SNAP isn’t enough to live on – it’s supplemental, right in the name (but ironically, you can’t buy vitamins or supplements with it). Recipients were receiving increased funds from federal COVID Relief, but as we told MinnPost, March was the last month of the program, and roughly 250,000 Minnesotans stopped receiving the extra SNAP dollars. And now the government has limited who can receive help as food prices continue to rise. Individuals shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to survive.
Though we’re hoping and working towards a day when everyone has the necessary resources to thrive, PRISM is here to help until then. We’ll continue to provide food, housing support, ways to celebrate children, and affordable clothing and household items for our community members. As long as we’re needed, we’ll grow and adapt to meet people where they’re at.
*If you’re looking for food assistance, our Marketplace Food Shelf is available to participants once a week to shop free of cost.