INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture wants to close a loophole in food stamp benefits.
Members of the organization Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, which represents foods banks, worries some Hoosiers could be kicked out of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The USDA said a proposed change to the eligibility rule would close a loophole allowing people who get only minimal benefits from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to be automatically eligible for food stamps without undergoing further checks on their income or assets. According to the USDA, the proposed change will save billions of dollars and prevent abuse of the system.
Indianapolis resident Miri Tong gets help from food stamps and local food pantries as she struggles to make ends meet for herself and her three young children.
“It’s very hard, sir,” Tong said. “To make sure my kids and me eat, sir.”
Tong said she would not like to lose her food stamps “for the simple fact we really need this stuff. We need the benefits, sir.”
Vavvette Blue said she also relies on food stamps. “It’s very important to me because I need that. I really do need it.”
Emily Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, said the proposed change “would restrict access to 3 million Americans across the country. It would impact people in 40 different states including Indiana.”
“It’s making it more cumbersome for folks to access benefits.”
A former food stamp recipient, Brenda Gibson, said while she was inside the Lord’s Pantry at Anna’s House food pantry that the rule change would “make it really hard, I think.”
News 8 is gathering data to determine how many Indiana SNAP recipients would be impacted if the proposed rule change is accepted.
The USDA’s public comment period on the proposed rule change ends Sept. 23.
“At this time, this is a proposed rule and there will be a comment period. We are continuing to receive information about the proposed rule from our federal partners.
“This rule change would be relevant to Indiana under IC-12-14-30-4 which was updated by legislation passed in 2017. Indiana is among the majority of states to have a Broad-Based Categorically Eligible policy for SNAP benefits.”Marni Lemons, deputy director of communications and media, Indiana Family and Social Services Administration