Press Release/Statement | February 17, 2023

TICAS Statement on Senate Agricultural Committee’s Hearing on Farm Bill Reauthorization of SNAP

Author: Statement of Carrie R. Welton

“Yesterday, the Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing on the upcoming Farm Bill, which reauthorizes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP, (formerly known as food stamps) is our nation’s most effective food assistance program. However, in its current form, the program contains counterproductive rules that undermine recipients’ ability to access postsecondary programs, which in turn severely limits SNAP’s mission to support “self-sufficiency” for participants.

“As Congress considers the 2023 Farm Bill, TICAS strongly urges members to adopt overdue reforms that improve participants’ access to postsecondary credentials, reduce student basic needs insecurity and remove barriers to economic mobility. Specifically, this requires including programs at institutions of higher education under the “Employment & Training” section to ensure that enrollment in a postsecondary program meets any compliance, work participation, or core activity requirements for SNAP. This will alleviate the restrictions that eligible students face to access SNAP benefits while providing SNAP recipients with access to higher education programs that lead to improved wages.

“There is a growing demand for workers with education beyond high school, especially from state and local governments. At the same time, people want to earn degrees, though many are unable to pursue them due to the cost and being forced to decide between work or more education. Similarly, enrollment trends continue to show that students with lower incomes are enrolling in college at rates higher than their middle-income peers and the basic needs insecurity they experience while enrolled is harming their success.

“The evidence is conclusive that postsecondary credentials lead to improved self-sufficiency. Every level of postsecondary education achieved is correlated with improved social, economic, and health outcomes, including higher earnings, lower unemployment and poverty rates, and improved education outcomes for their children. Similarly, workers with a postsecondary credential benefit from the majority of jobs with livable wages, employer-provided health and retirement benefits. Public programs that restrict access to education belie this evidence, undermine federal and state investments in higher education and ignore the needs of employers.

“We look forward to working with Congress in the coming months to ensure that these necessary changes to SNAP work for the economy, for recipients, and for students.”