U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush

Rush: let SNAP families have prepared foods

Says current regs make ‘no sense’

From staff reports

Legislation that would allow Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to be used to purchase hot foods and certain prepared foods was introduced this month by U.S. Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-1st).

The SNAP PLUS Act of 2021 (H.R. 6338) would directly affect the 40.8 million Americans who receive SNAP benefits, according to the most recent public data.

BobbyRush

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-1st)

“I grew up in a single-parent household,” Rush said. “My mother worked hard to provide for us, but my family was always on the edge financially, and at times, we relied on government benefits to get by. I remember many times when I would not have a decent meal for dinner. So, I understand the importance of food security programs firsthand. It is clear to me — and to families I have heard from who are facing food insecurity in the 1st District and across the nation — that the exclusion of hot and prepared foods under current SNAP criteria is impractical, misguided and unwise.”

Rush said the fact that SNAP recipients may buy “a frozen, breaded chicken, but not a hot rotisserie chicken or a salad from a grocery store salad bar, frankly, makes no sense. This restriction is most harmful to individuals who may be experiencing homelessness, recovering from a natural disaster, or otherwise lack convenient access to a kitchen or the ability to heat up foods — in other words, people who are among those most in need. The SNAP PLUS Act will remedy the disparity in how hot and prepared foods are treated under SNAP.”

Joining Rush in sponsoring the bill were U.S. Reps. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.).

“The COVID-19 pandemic presented unprecedented food security challenges for families across the country and Congress responded by allowing states to apply for purchasing flexibilities,” said Abby J. Leibman, President & CEO of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger. “The SNAP PLUS Act would modernize SNAP to better reflect the reality of working families on SNAP, who often rely on hot foods, like a rotisserie chicken, to provide a nutritious and convenient meal. We are proud to support this bill to ensure that SNAP benefits adequately support SNAP recipients today, while also addressing out-of-date and discriminatory restrictions on allowable purchases using SNAP benefits.”

The First Congressional District includes all or parts of Ashburn, Wrightwood, Parkview, Scottsdale and Chicago Lawn, as well as other city neighborhoods and suburban towns.

Rush, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, said he has long fought to strengthen and expand SNAP. More than 20 percent of households in the First District receive SNAP benefits. In the early 1970s, Rush helped create and administer the Free Breakfast for Children Program in Chicago as a member of the Black Panther Party. By 1972, the program was feeding 25,000 children across the nation free breakfast every morning before they went to school. Rush said the Black Panther Party’s program was an impetus for the USDA to launch the federal School Breakfast Program in 1975, which today helps feed more than 14 million children.

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