Editorial: No such thing as a free lunch with SNAP
Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish.
There are plenty of old sayings that urge us not to do something on principle that makes sense but has an obvious fly in the ointment.
Like the proposed changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that could take what used to be called food stamps away from 200,000 Pennsylvanians.
The Trump administration proposal would demand that states use federal income threshold and guidelines to obtain the assistance. That means a family of four would have to make $32,000 or less to qualify for SNAP.
Pennsylvania is one of 39 states that makes use of a provision allowing expanded eligibility. A Pennsylvania family of four can make up to $38,000 and qualify.
That could be a real problem, but let’s pull that aspect out of the spotlight, because there is a reason for it, whether people agree with it or not. The government wants to save money. That $6,000 difference in income multiplied across the 3.1 million people nationwide estimated to be affected would add up. The math is undeniable.
That’s the bathwater. So where is the baby?
The baby is a second change that would make recipients who still qualify for SNAP file a separate application for free or reduced-price lunches at school.
Why? One might think it’s not a big deal. It’s an application. Fill it out. You’re getting a free lunch — a little paperwork isn’t too much to ask.
But it’s not the effort of the applicant that’s the issue. It’s the duplication of effort on the state’s side.
The guidelines for free lunches announced in October 2018 say that same family of four can make up to $32,630 and qualify. In other words, if you qualify for SNAP, you would qualify for free lunch, so why should the state be forced to demand, receive and process a separate application?
It’s exactly the kind of unnecessary bureaucratic red-tape mouse trap that defines bad government and poor planning.
You can point out the problem. You can say it doesn’t make sense. But you know the old saying:
You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it think.