Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried slams Trump's proposed food stamp cuts

“Reducing federal nutrition assistance is a step in the wrong direction."

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried slams Trump's proposed food stamp cuts
Photo via Nikki Fried

Food stamps are a hand up — not a handout, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said in a statement criticizing the Trump administration's proposed roll back on the program. 

The Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday that around 3 million Americans would no longer be eligible for food stamps due to new rules aiming to close a "loophole" in benefits. 

“While 2.8 million Floridians struggle with food insecurity, including 850,000 children, reducing federal nutrition assistance is a step in the wrong direction," Fried said in a statement.

Helping families rise out of poverty through nutrition has long received bipartisan support. Currently SNAP benefits, commonly known as food stamps, are automatically available for those enrolled in another government program, Temporary Assistance for Needy families (TANF). The U.S. Department of Agriculture wants to change that automatic eligibility for some TANF recipients, releasing a statement claiming some of the recipients "clearly don't need it." 

“For too long, this loophole has been used to effectively bypass important eligibility guidelines. Too often, states have misused this flexibility without restraint,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said in a statement. “The American people expect their government to be fair, efficient, and to have integrity – just as they do in their own homes, businesses, and communities." 

Currently 3.1 million Americans received automatic eligibility due to this practice, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. More than 3 million Floridians use food stamps, according to 2017 data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, but it's not clear how many residents would be affected. 

The news come after Fried made a 20-stop tour around the state targeting hunger and food insecurity. "While our Department works to ensure kids can access healthy meals year-round, cutting food stamp eligibility will hurt 3 million working families seeking a hand up – not a handout,” she said in a statement.

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