News & Opinion » News

Thousands in Monroe County could lose SNAP benefits


A proposal from the US Department of Agriculture could keep thousands of people in Monroe County from receiving  SNAP money to buy food.

Monroe County receives about $15 million in SNAP money per month to help feed needy families. By federal law, SNAP benefits go to people who make 130 percent of the poverty line or less. For a family of four, the poverty rate is about $25,000.

But New York and 39 other states have eased those rules, allowing people who make in some cases twice the poverty rate to receive the money.

The Trump administration wants to stop states from doing that. The USDA’s proposal would modify the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, which allows states to ease the federal rules.

A change like this could hit hard locally, says Mark Dwyer, spokesperson for the local nonprofit Foodlink, which has a network of food cupboards and kitchens throughout Western New York to fight food insecurity.

“You’re talking about 10, 11, 12,000 people that could be losing their SNAP benefits as a result of this rule change,” said Dwyer. “Red states, blue states, purple states – they all benefit from this program. They’ve all used it to enroll people in SNAP, because they see it as useful to lift people out of poverty.”

According to the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, about 113,000 people in Monroe County receive SNAP benefits each month. It’s unclear how many of those people are over the poverty line, but national estimates say about 9 percent of SNAP recipients are in this group.

The public has 60 days to comment on the proposal online. You can do that here.

James Brown is a reporter at WXXI.