Food stamp debate: Trump administration has weighed drug testing, other restrictions

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WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — At the end of the week, Americans who lost their job may lose the additional $600 per week they’ve received during the COVID-19 pandemic if lawmakers can’t pass the next round of COVID-19 aid.

That has many turning to the idea of applying for food stamps for the first time — better known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

“If you’ve never accessed these benefits before, it may be because of the way that SNAP in particular has been portrayed or vilified,” said Carlos M. Rodriguez, president and chief executive of the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, in an interview with the New York Times. “People do not understand that this program is here for them at this exact time.”

Advocates for hunger alleviation in the United States blasted the GOP’s proposal Tuesday for not extending food assistance programs during the pandemic, according to The Washington Post.

The Republicans’ HEALS Act does not expand SNAP or the Pandemic EBT program that helps provide meals to children who have lost school lunches.

A household survey from the Census Bureau showed that some 26 million adults, or just over a tenth of the adults in the U.S., reported “sometimes or often” not having enough to eat in the first week of July.

Over the last few years, the Trump administration has considered asking states to drug test for food stamps. The plan would be considered a win to conservatives seeking to cut the safety net program.

In a 2018 reports, an official told the Associated Press roughly 5 percent of participants in SNAP could be affected. During this pandemic, the number could be even higher.

As late as May 2020, the Trump administration has sought to cut the food stamp program, according to CBS News. USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue argued in 2019 that the program was meant to provide “assistance through difficult times, not a way of life.”

According to recent data from Pulse Survey, roughly 11 percent of American adults have experienced food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic with the highest rate around 18 percent.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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