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Don't force older Americans to go hungry by cutting SNAP

Felipe Cruz of Chicago speaks about the hardship that proposed work requirements for SNAP recipients would cause his family if they go into effect, at the Common Pantry in Chicago on Wednesday, April, 18, 2018. (Stacey Wescott / Chicago Tribune)

Representatives of AARP Maryland have been meeting with the state's congressional delegation urging our elected officials to oppose cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) ("Workfare push suffers from a flawed premise," April 13). AARP Maryland, serving those 50 and older, is one of the state's largest consumer advocacy organizations with more than 850,000 members. SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, provides critical nutritional assistance to millions of Americans, including 8.7 million households with someone age 50 or older.

Recent proposals released by the Trump administration and Congress would cut SNAP and add new barriers for those who depend on this program to purchase food. SNAP serves one in seven U.S. residents and helps to ensure that low-income households have access to adequate food and do not go hungry. Almost 700,000 unemployed and under-employed Marylanders receive SNAP benefits, and about one in three of the recipients are ages 50 or older.

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The SNAP program has been shown to be effective for older adults who live on fixed incomes and have limited resources to spend on necessities such as food, housing and utilities. Older Americans are less likely to give up their medicine for food, and participation in the program has been linked to reduced hospital and nursing home admissions, resulting in millions of dollars in taxpayer savings. AARP is advocating for Congress to work together on a bipartisan basis to protect and strengthen the SNAP program. We oppose H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2019 proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives which would create stricter SNAP work requirements for older adults ages 50-59 and make it harder for those facing food insecurity to access SNAP.

Most individuals who receive SNAP and who are required to work already do so. And for those over 50 who are unemployed, finding work can be especially challenging. AARP is deeply concerned about individuals not having access to adequate food. We strongly encourage members of our Congressional delegation to resist cutting programs that improve food security for 43 million Americans.

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Jim Campbell, Baltimore

The writer is president of AARP Maryland.

Send letters to the editor to talkback@baltimoresun.com. Please include your name and contact information.

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